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Mild-mannered mindfulness that leads by example.

“I’m quiet as mud when I’m alone.”

Inspired by a quote from author Margaret Wise Brown, Yolen offers a gently paced ode to the silent and soft-spoken. Appropriately, only one or two lines occupy each page, letting Wong’s pastoral illustrations take the lead. An unnamed young narrator floats through the sky, frolics across fields and forests, and goes on family picnics while sharing various similes, many rooted in nature. “I’m quiet as the stars” and “silent as a sandwich / when it sits uneaten on a plate,” says the little one. “I just like hearing the world spin by.” Though surrounded by a supportive family, the narrator is “quiet as mud when I’m alone.” Muddy footprints feature throughout, with the whole family looking (happily) grubby by the end, together in the garden behind a yellow house. Whatever reasons readers may have to be quiet, they’ll find Yolen’s words reassuring. Being quiet lets the protagonist pay attention to things others might miss, such as “the songs that the rocks all sing.” The child is also “happy to hear my heart beat / with its own steady thud-thud-thud.” Yolen has crafted an idyllic safe space for daydreamers, shrinking violets, and selectively mute little ones and a sweetly surreal alternative point of view for everyone else. The protagonist is light-skinned, as are most family members.

Mild-mannered mindfulness that leads by example. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: April 16, 2024

ISBN: 9781433841538

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2024

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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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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