NIA AND THE NEW FREE LIBRARY

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 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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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

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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

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