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NEN AND THE LONELY FISHERMAN

A moving celebration of love.

A fisherman and a merman find love by the sea.

Nen, a merman with a golden fishtail, loves exploring the world of humans. One day, as he swims close to shore, he notices that one of the fishermen seems different from the others. Ernest is gentle and creative, and he rescues sea birds accidentally snared by nets. Both are lonely, and when they meet one night under the moon, they fall in love. Nen’s father, Pelagios, frustrated at Nen’s insistence on interacting with humans, who are hurting the ocean, creates a storm that pulls Ernest under. But Nen saves him, and Pelagios sees that he was wrong. In the end, Ernest and Nen meet happily at the shore, sitting on the rocks and holding hands. The ending is a pleasant departure from the “Little Mermaid” template; neither man needs to fundamentally change who he is so they can be together. It’s a tender fairy tale with no heavy-handed moral, though the importance of love and of respecting the ocean comes through clearly. The illustrations have a sketchy simplicity to them, but they are sweet and moody, with the warm colors depicting Nen and Ernest standing out against an ocean of blues and grays. There are also plenty of cute sea creatures to spot. Young readers who appreciate fairy tales, love stories, or mermaids will be enchanted. Nen and Pelagios are brown-skinned and dark-haired, while Ernest has pale skin and red hair.

A moving celebration of love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781499815931

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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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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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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