It’s sentimental to be sure, but who can’t use a gentle nudge to remember manners? (Picture book. 4-8)

THE THANK YOU LETTER

Young Grace gives and then receives letters of love and gratitude.

After an exuberant birthday party filled with diverse kids in elaborate costumes, Grace sits down to write thank-you letters for her gifts, depicted in Cabrera’s trademark, childlike style. There’s always a bit of dissonance when an adult approximates children’s art, but these are reasonable, not-too-cloying facsimiles. Grace’s messages are just right, especially when acknowledging that while a gift might not have been perfect (she receives a toy dog rather than a living pup; gloves are too large), she’s thankful nonetheless. Upon finishing, she carries on, sending gratitude to teachers, pets, and members of her diverse community. (Grace herself has light skin and straight, dark hair.) Cabrera’s books tend to feel satisfyingly cohesive, and this is no exception. Grace returns home to dozens of love letters sent back to her pinned inside her brand-new play tent, and the whole thing cozily wraps with Grace holding a metafictive sign thanking the readers of this book. At times, the book tries too hard to be positive—where’s the whining about completing what many children regard as a chore?—and Grace’s ever present grin and dotted pink cheeks make her appear excessively dolllike, even cutesy. But the animated art style, with deeply textured acrylic colors in invitingly warm colors and cheery scrapbook paper collage, buoys the effort.

It’s sentimental to be sure, but who can’t use a gentle nudge to remember manners? (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4250-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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Sweet, good-hearted fun.

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THE SOUR GRAPE

From the Food Group series

A recovering curmudgeon narrates life lessons in the latest entry in the punny Food Group series.

Grape wasn’t always sour, as they explain in this origin story. Grape’s arc starts with an idyllic childhood within “a close-knit bunch” in a community of “about three thousand.” The sweet-to-sour switch begins when Grape plans an elaborate birthday party to which no one shows up. Going from “sweet” to “bitter,” “snappy,” and, finally, “sour,” Grape “scowled so much that my face got all squishy.” Minor grudges become major. An aha moment occurs when a run of bad luck makes Grape three hours late for a meetup with best friend Lenny, who’s just as acidic as Grape. After the irate lemon storms off, Grape recognizes their own behavior in Lenny. Alone, Grape begins to enjoy the charms of a lovely evening. Once home, the fruit browses through a box of memorabilia, discovering that the old birthday party invitation provided the wrong date! “I realized nobody’s perfect. Not even me.” Remaining pages reverse the downturn as Grape observes that minor setbacks are easily weathered when the emphasis is on talking, listening, and working things out. Oswald’s signature illustrations depict Grape and company with big eyes and tiny limbs. The best sight gag occurs early: Grape’s grandparents are depicted as elegant raisins. The lessons are as valuable as in previous outings, and kids won’t mind the slight preachiness. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, good-hearted fun. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-304541-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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