Probably more for adults than for the children in their lives.

A young child develops a love for vocabulary.

Ava tells readers, right away, “I love words.” With bright chalk the white, pigtailed writer scrawls basic words like “yes,” “happy,” “cat,” and “rain” in green, blue, yellow, and pink. The narrator takes readers through the process of language acquisition, first as an infant who “started with no words,” expressing baby talk like “oooh eee gaga yaaa” while absorbing real words (“book / uh-oh / dog / no”), finally saying “ba!” while pointing to a ball. As the story proceeds, Ava gains more and more language, learning to talk “to friends in marvelous ways,” culminating in writerly ambitions; the last page shows the pink-dressed, cowboy-booted child holding taped-together pages entitled “Ava’s Book,” reading aloud to an assortment of toys and stuffed animals. The prose rhymes loosely, bouncing ahead in a rhythm that is a pleasure to read aloud. Unfortunately, while the miracle of language may be astonishing to an adult watching it, it is perhaps less than enthralling for a child going through it. With the exception of “marvelous,” all the words used are short and simple, appropriate for young children but obscuring the larger goal of reveling in a love of language. Ava, who is paper-white, is a pleasant-enough narrator, but there’s little here to hook child readers beyond, perhaps, pure identification.

Probably more for adults than for the children in their lives. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-290780-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020


As ephemeral as a valentine.

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021


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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