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THE BUDDY BENCH

From the Confetti Kids series

An appealingly illustrated early reader that’s strong on social message but rather weak on plot.

When Padma and her friends notice a lonely new boy at school, they make a plan to help him feel included.

Padma loves school, and she loves her friends. When she finds out that she has been assigned to a different classroom than her friends, she isn’t bothered, seeing it instead it as an opportunity to make new friends. But Padma notices a new boy who stands by himself at the side of the playground, looking lonely. To help him feel included, Padma and her friends get the principal’s permission to create a "buddy bench," a place where kids can sit together and make new friends. After some initial hesitation, the lonely boy sits on the bench, and Padma and her friends learn that Zander’s mom is a military pilot and that the family has been through a number of moves. Padma strikes up a friendship with him, and by the end of the book, he has been absorbed into Padma’s happy and diverse peer group. Padma’s name hints at Indian heritage, and Zander appears black. The book’s vibrant illustrations include a diverse cast of characters who are compassionate, convincing, and empowered to solve their own problems. Although the language is appropriately simple and clear, it can sometimes feel forced and stilted, particularly in dialogue. Likewise, the plot, though well-intentioned, lacks cohesion.

An appealingly illustrated early reader that’s strong on social message but rather weak on plot. (Early reader. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62014-571-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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LITTLE DAYMOND LEARNS TO EARN

It’s hard to argue with success, but guides that actually do the math will be more useful to budding capitalists.

How to raise money for a coveted poster: put your friends to work!

John, founder of the FUBU fashion line and a Shark Tank venture capitalist, offers a self-referential blueprint for financial success. Having only half of the $10 he needs for a Minka J poster, Daymond forks over $1 to buy a plain T-shirt, paints a picture of the pop star on it, sells it for $5, and uses all of his cash to buy nine more shirts. Then he recruits three friends to decorate them with his design and help sell them for an unspecified amount (from a conveniently free and empty street-fair booth) until they’re gone. The enterprising entrepreneur reimburses himself for the shirts and splits the remaining proceeds, which leaves him with enough for that poster as well as a “brand-new business book,” while his friends express other fiscal strategies: saving their share, spending it all on new art supplies, or donating part and buying a (math) book with the rest. (In a closing summation, the author also suggests investing in stocks, bonds, or cryptocurrency.) Though Miles cranks up the visual energy in her sparsely detailed illustrations by incorporating bright colors and lots of greenbacks, the actual advice feels a bit vague. Daymond is Black; most of the cast are people of color. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

It’s hard to argue with success, but guides that actually do the math will be more useful to budding capitalists. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-56727-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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WHAT THE ROAD SAID

Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2021

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