Hopeful and affirming, but children familiar with bullying may find the conclusion too simple.

JACOB'S NEW DRESS

In a warmly illustrated picture book meant to comfort both boys who are gender-nonconforming and their parents, young Jacob asks his mom for a dress to wear to school.

At first, Jacob’s interest in wearing dresses is limited to playing dress-up. When his classmate Christopher tells him he ought to wear boys’ clothes instead, Jacob’s friend Emily answers with age-appropriate defenses (“Christopher, stop telling us what to do”). Jacob’s mom hesitates when Jacob expresses interest in wearing a dress as school clothes, but eventually, both she and Jacob’s dad agree to it. The segments with Jacob’s mom and dad seem aimed at parents as much as at children. Jacob’s mom’s look of concern when he first asks about the dress is poignant, and his dad’s words of acceptance (“Well, it’s not what I would wear, but you look great”) could easily serve as a model for fathers in similar positions. What rings less true is the story’s rosy end. Faced with Christopher’s bullying comments and other kids’ laughter, Jacob is so buoyed by his new dress that he stands up to Christopher himself, then sprints triumphantly across the playground, “his dress spreading out like wings.”

Hopeful and affirming, but children familiar with bullying may find the conclusion too simple. (afterword, authors’ note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6373-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

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 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning.

THE MAGICAL YET

Children realize their dreams one step at a time in this story about growth mindset.

A child crashes and damages a new bicycle on a dark, rainy day. Attempting a wheelie, the novice cyclist falls onto the sidewalk, grimacing, and, having internalized this setback as failure, vows to never ride again but to “walk…forever.” Then the unnamed protagonist happens upon a glowing orb in the forest, a “thought rearranger-er”—a luminous pink fairy called the Magical Yet. This Yet reminds the child of past accomplishments and encourages perseverance. The second-person rhyming couplets remind readers that mistakes are part of learning and that with patience and effort, children can achieve. Readers see the protagonist learn to ride the bike before a flash-forward shows the child as a capable college graduate confidently designing a sleek new bike. This book shines with diversity: racial, ethnic, ability, and gender. The gender-indeterminate protagonist has light brown skin and exuberant curly locks; Amid the bustling secondary cast, one child uses a prosthesis, and another wears hijab. At no point in the text is the Yet defined as a metaphor for a growth mindset; adults reading with younger children will likely need to clarify this abstract lesson. The artwork is powerful and detailed—pay special attention to the endpapers that progress to show the Yet at work.

A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02562-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more