The spiky, colorful art is more interesting than the plot, but Millie’s fierceness in the middle will speak both to tots...

Alluring, edgy watercolors with sharp angles show a tyke’s transformation from mild to monstrous and back again.

“Millie was too short to be tall, too quiet to be loud, and too plain to be fancy.” Pink-cheeked and limp-haired, Millie feels like nothing special. She’s ignored and harassed. Schoolmates tromp on her chalk sidewalk picture, walking “all over her flower, and over it, and over it, until it [i]s nothing more than a big, multicolored smudge.” Such bullying is beyond tolerance, and Millie Fierce emerges. From downcast and slouchy, “feeling like a smudge” herself, Millie becomes upright, hands on hips, eyebrows aggressively slanted. She “frizze[s] out her hair and ma[kes] the crazy eye.” She demands that grandpa “Look at me and my ferocity!” But Millie’s assertiveness ratchets too high. She flicks food, paints the dog blue, howls at a nonplussed moon and becomes a bully herself. Coming unsurprisingly full circle, Millie concludes that “she likes being good better than being fierce.” Manning’s intense colors feature fine and pointy details, and her paintings warrant more than a quick glance. It’s too bad that Millie’s symbolically fierce hairdo is a common style for curly-haired kids.

The spiky, colorful art is more interesting than the plot, but Millie’s fierceness in the middle will speak both to tots who’ve tried it and those who haven’t. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-25642-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012


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


From the Growing With Buddy series , Vol. 3

Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient.

How do you make a new friend when an old one moves away?

Buddy (from Sorry, Grown-Ups, You Can’t Go to School, 2019, etc.) is feeling lonely. His best friend just moved across town. To make matters worse, there is a field trip coming up, and Buddy needs a bus partner. His sister, Lady, has some helpful advice for making a new pal: “You just need to find something you have in common.” Buddy loves the game Robo Chargers and karate. Surely there is someone else who does, too! Unfortunately, there isn’t. However, when a new student arrives (one day later) and asks everyone to call her Sunny instead of Alison, Buddy gets excited. No one uses his given name, either; they just call him Buddy. He secretly whispers his “real, official name” to Sunny at lunch—an indication that a true friendship is being formed. The rest of the story plods merrily along, all pieces falling exactly into place (she even likes Robo Chargers!), accompanied by Bowers’ digital art, a mix of spot art and full-bleed illustrations. Friendship-building can be an emotionally charged event in a child’s life—young readers will certainly see themselves in Buddy’s plight—but, alas, there is not much storytelling magic to be found. Buddy and his family are White, Sunny and Mr. Teacher are Black, and Buddy’s other classmates are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-30709-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022