A solid (if a bit basic) primer.

LUNCH BOX BULLY

From the I Like To Read series

Schoolyard animals take on a bully—with lemons.

While the other animal “boys and girls” like their classmate Max (a rabbit), Big Jim (a warthog) does not. He relentlessly steals Max’s “good lunch,” making Max cry. Max’s friends encourage multiple tactics to deal with this bully. First, Max simply avoids Big Jim. The bully still takes his lunch. Next, Max buys Big Jim a lemon ice as a peace offering. The bully dumps the beverage over Max’s head (he doesn’t like lemons). Outraged, Max rushes to fight Big Jim. The scuffle is short-lived—and lands Max in the branches of a lemon tree. But Max gets a sneaky idea. The next day, Big Jim steals Max’s lunch as always, but his teeth crunch on a big, citrusy surprise (“Yuck!!!!!!!!!!”). The victory has Max coining a new adage: “A lemon a day keeps the bully away.” But what about Big Jim? With a vocabulary of around 90 words and at most five lines of text per page (eight words per line), the text maintains accessibility to beginning readers. Wilhem’s cartoony watercolors are soft against the white backgrounds, adding a friendly quality even to the tense scenes. A scripted scenario about how to deal with a real-life bully in the backmatter expands upon the story’s lessons. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 62% of actual size.)

A solid (if a bit basic) primer. (Early reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3933-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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All we want for Christmas is a more coherent story.

THE CHRISTMAS PRINCESS

THE ADVENTURES OF LITTLE MARIAH

Singer Carey, whose “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is in near-constant rotation each holiday season, makes the leap to Christmas picture book with co-author Davis.

Little Mariah lives in a worn, shabby house in a wealthy neighborhood; though poor, she has a kind nature and musical talent—both of which ultimately save her. Taunted by a nasty brother-sister duo who enter her home uninvited, Little Mariah is distracted by snowfall and runs out into the nearby woods. The snow transforms into Snowflake Butterfly Fairies. Following these entrancing visions, she encounters a gang of bullies but, having tripped over a heart-shaped stone, she uses its magical properties for good in a convoluted series of events. The Butterfly Fairy Queen arrives and crowns Little Mariah the Christmas Princess for her “perfectly pure songs from the heart.” Back at Little Mariah’s house, which has been miraculously transformed, Little Mariah performs Carey’s uber-hit Christmas song. Overwritten, overwrought, overlong, and narrated in clunky verse, this holiday story, seemingly inspired by Carey’s early childhood and with “Little Match Girl” and “Cinderella” vibes, rambles while making its trite, albeit well-meaning, point. It will attract attention because of the star power of its co-author; note her empowering foreword. The colorful illustrations are cheery. Wide-eyed, blond-curled Mariah and the Fairy Queen have light-tan skin; Mariah’s mom and several other characters, including the bullying brother and sister, are pale-skinned; the fairies are diverse in skin tone. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

All we want for Christmas is a more coherent story. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-83711-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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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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