It’s got a werewolf, but it’s bloodless.

THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT SAM

The birthday boy accidentally invites a werewolf to his sleepover.

At first, Max doesn’t want to invite new kid Sam to spend the night along with his other friends. “There’s something different about him,” he argues, but his mom counters that “that’s no reason to leave him out.” The third grader conveys his concerns to his other friends, but they seem to like the weirdo—apparently he “can run really fast,” says Michael (similarly initially left off Max’s guest list for nose-picking), and Elliott enthuses that he “always knows what’s cooking in the cafeteria way before lunchtime.” Sam himself seems hesitant, his hair standing on end as he says “I’m not sure I can…there’s a full moon that night.” But Sam decides to show up after all, and during the course of the sleepover he and his oddities start to grow on Max. Before long it’s revealed that the rare-meat–loving, hairy boy who’s inclined to bite is, in fact, a werewolf. The beastly reveal at the end is fun, but the journey there is bogged down by confusing transitions between scenes and awkward sentences. All the characters, including the protagonists, are awfully bland, and their somewhat interchangeable names make it hard to distinguish between them. The illustrations are unfortunately drab for such a lively concept. Max, his mother, and all his guests save Jeremy, who presents black, seem to be white.

It’s got a werewolf, but it’s bloodless. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-76680-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

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 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere.

THE QUEEN OF KINDERGARTEN

Barnes and Brantley-Newton team up for a follow-up to The King of Kindergarten (2019).

From the very first page, it’s clear that young MJ Malone is ready to face the world—and school. Once Mom bestows her with a glittery tiara and dubs her the queen of kindergarten, MJ is determined to fulfill her duties—brighten up every room she enters, treat others with kindness, and offer a helping hand. Barnes infuses each page with humor and a sense of grace as the immensely likable MJ makes the most of her first day. Barnes’ prose is entertaining and heartwarming, while Brantley-Newton’s vivid and playful artwork will be easily recognizable for anyone who’s seen her work (Grandma’s Purse, 2018; Becoming Vanessa, 2021). The illustrator adds verve to the bold young heroine’s character—from the colorful barrettes to the textured appearance of her adorable denim jumper, the girl has style and substance. MJ Malone embodies the can-do spirit every parent hopes to spark in their own children, though even shy kindergarteners will gladly find a friend in her. MJ and her family are Black; her classroom is diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 24, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-11142-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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