Free to be Big Bob, Little Bob, and Blossom.

BIG BOB, LITTLE BOB

Friendship transcends gender norms.

When Big Bob moves next door, Little Bob is leery of befriending him. The main problem isn't their size difference, it’s that they enjoy different things. Without malice apparent in the cheery, digital cartoon depictions of the smiling, light-skinned boys, Big Bob tells Little Bob, “Boys do not play with dolls….They play with trucks.” Little Bob isn’t persuaded and continues playing with his dolls, but Big Bob’s antics with his trucks and a ball destroy Little Bob’s playtime tableaux. Big Bob apologizes and explains, “You were supposed to catch the ball,” but Little Bob responds that he’s not good at playing catch. They can’t find common ground in attempts at shared activities, but this lack of connection never seems rooted in animosity, even when Big Bob remarks on Little Bob’s wearing a dress. Then Blossom, also light-skinned, moves in nearby, and she teases Little Bob about playing with dolls. This time, he’s hurt, and Big Bob comes to his defense: “Boys can do whatever they want!” Chagrined, she leaves, but Little Bob calls her back. Blossom returns, sharing that she likes playing with trucks, which Big Bob affirms since “Girls can do whatever they want, too.” The children then happily engage in play with their various toys, offering an ending that seems righteous if a bit forced.

Free to be Big Bob, Little Bob, and Blossom. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4436-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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 straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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