A keeper.

Waiflike Nia convinces Littletown to rebuild its library after a tornado carries it away.

The opening double-page spread mimics an album of photographs, starting with the earthbound library in a horse-and-buggy era and ending years later, with the building spun aloft in a tornado’s funnel. Simple text asserts that the library had been there so long that “people stopped paying attention” and no one noticed when the librarian retired. Townspeople do notice the space left by the tornado; preliminary suggestions for projects are a skyscraper and a parking lot. Nia’s suggestion is met with negative reactions from people who think that libraries are never used and are a waste of money. There is one stumbling moment when readers learn that decidedly young Nia had been checking out books weekly. How long ago had that librarian retired? Nevertheless, text, art, and layout combine to create a tale that is distinctive, whimsical, funny, and a pointed reminder about public libraries’ value. Nia gathers some items in her red wagon: a desk, a chair, pencil and papers, and “a plate of orange slices for energy.” She uses clever humility to lure townspeople into her scheme that readers familiar with the tale of “Stone Soup” may recognize. Tongue-in-cheek humor includes witty metafictional references. Warmly informal line-and-color art imbues the diverse inhabitants of Littletown with a sweet humanity—even in moments of disagreement. Nia has beige skin and wears her hair in a brown pageboy.

A keeper. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6686-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021


Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes.

Oscar winner McConaughey offers intriguing life observations.

The series of pithy, wry comments, each starting with the phrase “Just because,” makes clear that each of us is a mass of contradictions: “Just because we’re friends, / doesn’t mean you can’t burn me. / Just because I’m stubborn, / doesn’t mean that you can’t turn me.” Witty, digitally rendered vignettes portray youngsters diverse in terms of race and ability (occasionally with pets looking on) dealing with everything from friendship drama to a nerve-wracking footrace. “Just because I’m dirty, / doesn’t mean I can’t get clean” is paired with an image of a youngster taking a bath while another character (possibly an older sibling) sits nearby, smiling. “Just because you’re nice, / doesn’t mean you can’t get mean” depicts the older one berating the younger one for tracking mud into the house. The artwork effectively brings to life the succinct, rhyming text and will help readers make sense of it. Perhaps, after studying the illustrations and gaining further insight into the comments, kids will reread and reflect upon them further. The final page unites the characters from earlier pages with a reassuring message for readers: “Just because the sun has set, / doesn’t mean it will not rise. / Because every day is a gift, / each one a new surprise. BELIEVE IT.” As a follow-up, readers should be encouraged to make their own suggestions to complete the titular phrase. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780593622032

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


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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