Title notwithstanding, not the most welcoming of books.

An energetic series of haiku celebrates the first day of school.

Some describe individuals: “Angelica” is “Like a red rocket / Flashing across a blue sky: / Her hair in the wind” as she runs to catch the bus. Some orient readers to their classrooms: “Name Tags” are “At every desk, / A chair with tennis-ball feet, / A place just for you.” Some capture the experience: In crowded “Hallways,” younger children watch as “A thick herd of cows / Tramples past, smelly and loud. / Fifth graders are tall.” The individual poems’ success as haiku vary. Some, like “Hallways” and “Growing Up,” in which a mother bids goodbye to a fledgling kindergartner as a “small / Bird flies from its nest,” nail the form; others are more patterned, short narratives than anything else. Oddly, for a book that purports welcome, a mean-spirited streak surfaces. Student “Harold” is described thus: “Like a duck, one boy / Waddles down the hall, quacking. / Yikes, he’s in my class!” Another poem celebrates a “Prank,” in which an older child who knows the ways of a particular water fountain “smirks” while turning the knob to splash the face of the unsuspecting younger child. The kid laughs instead of crying, but it feels gratuitous. GrandPré’s busy, colorful paintings use primary colors to render this racially diverse school’s cheerfully chaotic first day.

Title notwithstanding, not the most welcoming of books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-15588-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020


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


A lushly illustrated homage to librarians who provide a welcome and a home away from home for all who enter.

A love letter to libraries.

A Black child, with hair in two puffballs tied with yellow ribbons, a blue dress with a Peter Pan collar, and black patent leather Mary Janes, helps Grandmother with the housework, then, at Grandmother’s suggestion, heads to the library. The child’s eagerness to go, with two books under an arm and one in their hand, suggests that this is a favorite destination. The books’ wordless covers emphasize their endless possibilities. The protagonist’s description of the library makes clear that they are always free to be themselves there—whether they feel happy or sad, whether they’re reading mysteries or recipes, and whether they feel “quick and smart” or “contained and cautious.” Robinson’s vibrant, carefully composed digital illustrations, with bright colors that invite readers in and textures and patterns in every image, effectively capture the protagonist’s passion for reading and appreciation for a space where they feel accepted regardless of disposition. In her author’s note, Giovanni states that she spent summers visiting her grandmother in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she went to the Carnegie Branch of the Lawson McGhee Library. She expresses gratitude for Mrs. Long, the librarian, who often traveled to the main library to get books that Giovanni could not find in their segregated branch. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A lushly illustrated homage to librarians who provide a welcome and a home away from home for all who enter. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-358-38765-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Versify/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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