HERE COMES HORTENSE!

Warm and offbeat. (Picture book. 4-7)

With Nana, every trip is an adventure, and sometimes a lesson.

Nana and her new husband, Bob, drive up in their bright orange van. They're planning to take the unnamed young narrator to WonderWorld, where he rides the mild Teacups while Nana favors the Wild Mouse. Mostly, he just craves some time alone with Nana. But the duo has another surprise for him: Bob's granddaughter Hortense, who is about his age and as adventurous as Nana. While Nana and Hortense ride the Landslide and the Mixmaster, the downcast lad mostly sits on a bench with Bob. "This is turning out to be the worst surprise ever!" Late that night, with Hortense and Nana in one room and him and Bob in another, he's hoping that Bob will sing "Lavender's Blue" to him like Nana does, but Bob falls quickly into a deep, snoring sleep. The next day starts on the same dark note but takes an abrupt turn when Hortense and the little boy begin talking, and she shares an identical disappointment at having little time with Bob. The two children forge a new friendship. Hartt-Sussman's narrative touch is deft. Graham's chalk pastels, a wacky delight from start to finish, bring appropriate lift to what could be a melancholy story. Her characters are uniquely quirky yet have a streak of photographic realism.

Warm and offbeat. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-77049-221-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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

THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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