SATURDAY IS SWIMMING DAY

This tender and accessible story of bravery and patience when facing a new situation encompasses a wide range of emotions...

In this story about new experiences, readers follow a tiny girl who faces her fear of swimming every Saturday.

Trying something new can be scary. Saturday mornings seem to start with stomachaches, as a grumpy little Asian girl fakes illness to avoid going to the swimming pool. She clings to her mom and hides in a locker. Her body language clearly shows her to be uncomfortable and tense as she stands against the wall while other children of all shapes and colors dive right in. Things do not look promising. Week by week, without any pressure from her white mom, she returns to the pool and takes tiny steps forward with the black swim instructor named Mary. Mary guides her away from the pool’s edge and gently builds on small successes each Saturday. Illustrations, done in watercolor and colored pencil, show the blue waters of the pool framed by the cold white floor tiles. Colorful swimsuits, bathing caps, and skin tones splash the pages. Slowly, the narrator finds her fearful feelings begin to change. As the little girl’s courage grows, the floor tiles slowly disappear, and the pictures become all water. The unnamed child narrates, gender indicated by the style of her swimsuit.

This tender and accessible story of bravery and patience when facing a new situation encompasses a wide range of emotions for timid children of all shapes and colors. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9117-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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

THE HUGASAURUS

Gently models kindness and respect—positive behavior that can be applied daily.

A group of young “dinosauruses” go out into the world on their own.

A fuchsia little Hugasaurus and her Pappysaur (both of whom resemble Triceratops) have never been apart before, but Hugasaurus happily heads off with lunchbox in hand and “wonder in her heart” to make new friends. The story has a first-day-of-school feeling, but Hugasaurus doesn’t end up in a formal school environment; rather, she finds herself on a playground with other little prehistoric creatures, though no teacher or adult seems to be around. At first, the new friends laugh and play. But Hugasaurus’ pals begin to squabble, and play comes to a halt. As she wonders what to do, a fuzzy platypus playmate asks some wise questions (“What…would your Pappy say to do? / What makes YOU feel better?”), and Hugasaurus decides to give everyone a hug—though she remembers to ask permission first. Slowly, good humor is restored and play begins anew with promises to be slow to anger and, in general, to help create a kinder world. Short rhyming verses occasionally use near rhyme but also include fun pairs like ripples and double-triples. Featuring cozy illustrations of brightly colored creatures, the tale sends a strong message about appropriate and inappropriate ways to resolve conflict, the final pages restating the lesson plainly in a refrain that could become a classroom motto. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Gently models kindness and respect—positive behavior that can be applied daily. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-82869-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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