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GIRL VERSUS SQUIRREL

Determination and perseverance—both girl’s and squirrel’s—are celebrated.

An enterprising girl meets her match in an even more enterprising squirrel.

Pearl, illustrated with black hair and eyes and beige skin, has just built herself three birdhouses. “One looked like a house. / One looked like a tube. / One looked like a teacup”—because it is a teacup, and it’s the one Pearl is most proud of. While the house-shaped feeder and the tube feeder attract appropriate (and accurately illustrated) birds, the teacup, filled with peanuts, attracts a squirrel—who eats them all. Irritated, Pearl rigs up a taller contraption to foil the squirrel, but the squirrel defeats this easily. Finally, after building a Rube Goldberg–like obstacle course of things Pearl keeps in her “box of useful odds and ends”—which the squirrel navigates with ease—Pearl’s irritation turns to admiration. When she discovers that the squirrel is, in fact, a mama with three kits, the friendship is sealed. Barrett’s high-energy narrative is filled with action verbs that give it a pleasingly crisp forward movement while Andriani’s illustrations are just as pleasingly varied in their presentation and keep up perfectly with the text. (Of note is the sequence in which nine separate iterations of the squirrel navigate each element of the ninja course.) This can-do story is delivered with great good humor, and it has the added benefit of ending with empathy rather than outright victory. Backmatter delivers more factual information about squirrels.

Determination and perseverance—both girl’s and squirrel’s—are celebrated. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4251-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

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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