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This one can be skipped.

An Indian American girl is initially reluctant when her parents announce it’s time to wear a bindi to school.

While Varadarajan’s author’s note states that many Hindu women and girls do not strictly follow the tradition of wearing the bindi—the red mark worn between the brows—there is no such flexibility in Divya’s house. Both Divya’s parents think it’s time Divya starts wearing a bindi, with her father adding that she’ll look “so beautiful.” But Divya fears that her classmates Sam, Sally, and Sania will make fun of her. Despite her palpable anxiety, Amma tells her that “the time has come,” and Divya chooses a bindi to wear to school. Her fears that her classmates will mock her don’t come to pass, and she comes to love the bindi and even gives a speech to her class about why. The book feels less like a story of a girl learning to embrace her culture and more a heavy-handed exhortation to do so—a startling choice given the increase in Hindu nationalism in both India and the Indian Hindu diaspora. Amma, who wears the bindi even while sleeping, insists that wearing a bindi is “what Hindu girls do.” Though the illustrations are appealing, Divya’s internal monologue about why she loves wearing the bindi is preachy, and the author’s note feels judgmental toward Indian Americans who prefer not to embrace certain traditions. Divya’s classmates are racially diverse; Sam is brown-skinned, Sally is light-skinned, and Sania is, like Divya, Indian American. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This one can be skipped. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-59881-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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