MY TREE

Transcending time and place, this gentle book will take root in many hearts.

An old plum tree reminds a small immigrant child of life in Korea.

“In the backyard of our new home stood an old tree. Tall, crooked, quiet. It reminded me of the persimmon tree that shaded our porch in Korea.” With spare and empathic text, this little black-haired child displays the vulnerability that comes when moving to a new country. The family has moved to America, with white picket fences and cardinals in the yard. Homesick for the life left behind, the child, who narrates, names the tree Plumee and finds comfort in watering and caring for her. The parents, wordless, unpack boxes labeled “fragile” in the foreground. Na’s whimsically stylized illustrations are richly emotive, using space and perspective to make the tree strong and protective and the child small. When a storm levels the tree to the ground, the child remembers Grandma’s wisdom, from Korea: “An old tree knows how to lie down when it is time.” Even fallen, the tree becomes a playground for the child, sparking imaginative play by becoming a treehouse, a rocket, an island, and a ship. There is a calm symbolism throughout the story—of old memories and new places, of homesickness and adaptation, of being uprooted and the thrill of new life. Lim and Na’s collaboration has captured the essence of quiet immigrant resilience.

Transcending time and place, this gentle book will take root in many hearts. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4338-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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

THE BIG CHEESE

From the Food Group series

From curds to riches, from meltdown to uplift—this multicourse romp delivers.

A winning wheel of cheddar with braggadocio to match narrates a tale of comeuppance and redemption.

From humble beginnings among kitchen curds living “quiet lives of pasteurization,” the Big Cheese longs to be the best and builds success and renown based on proven skills and dependable results: “I stuck to the things I was good at.” When newcomer Wedge moves to the village of Curds-on-Whey, the Cheese’s star status wobbles and falls. Turns out that quiet, modest Wedge is also multitalented. At the annual Cheese-cathlon, Wedge bests six-time winner Cheese in every event, from the footrace and chess to hat making and bread buttering. A disappointed Cheese throws a full-blown tantrum before arriving at a moment of truth: Self-calming, conscious breathing permits deep relief that losing—even badly—does not result in disaster. A debrief with Wedge “that wasn’t all about me” leads to further realizations: Losing builds empathy for others; obsession with winning obscures “the joy of participating.” The chastened cheddar learns to reserve bragging for lifting up friends, because anyone can be the Big Cheese. More didactic and less pun-rich than previous entries in the Food Group series, this outing nevertheless couples a cheerful refrain with pithy life lessons that hit home. Oswald’s detailed, comical illustrations continue to provide laughs, including a spot with Cheese onstage doing a “CHED” talk.

From curds to riches, from meltdown to uplift—this multicourse romp delivers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780063329508

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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