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WHEN YOU CAN SWIM

A gorgeously rendered love letter to swimming and the magical experiences that it can unlock.

Debut author Wong celebrates the freedom and joys of swimming.

With endpapers that depict an Asian child gazing uncertainly at their own reflection in a pool, this book offers beginning swimmers both reassurance and compelling promises of adventure and discovery that will ensue “when you can swim.” Images portray adults sharing the gifts of the water with their young ones, from shallow waters perfect for lazy afternoons to the otherworldly landscape of watery depths. Wong’s beautiful watercolor-and-pastel illustrations demonstrate a mastery of light and shadow, creating a textural quality that makes each page dance with life and movement. Combined with the lyrical text (“When you can swim, / we’ll bend like boulders / beneath rushing waterfalls”), each frame immediately immerses readers in the sights, sounds, and sensations of summer. Swimmers who are diverse in terms of body type, age, skin tone, and ability can be seen enjoying the natural world. In his author’s note, Wong shares his own experiences with swimming as a young person of color, explaining that this conscious representation is an affirmation that swimming is for everyone: “Yes, this belongs to you, too.” The title is bound to inspire all swimmers to embrace nature, no matter where they are on their journeys. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gorgeously rendered love letter to swimming and the magical experiences that it can unlock. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781338830965

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2023

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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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