This is not a book that kids could (or would) pick up on their own without guidance, and teachers are likely still to prefer...

HELP ME LEARN ADDITION

From the Help Me Learn series

Marzollo’s second Help Me Learn title builds on the first (Help Me Learn Numbers 0-20, 2011) but unfortunately does not fix its rhythm and rhyme flaws. 

Relating to the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics for pre-K through first grade, this latest focuses on addition: counting on, skip counting, number sentences, ways to equal 10, tally marks and a few subtraction problems. But clunky verses with words chosen for rhyme rather than meaning (or even rhythm) plague these pages, and affect not just readers’ understanding, but readability as well. “What is the answer / when we add zero? / It’s what we had. / Is that clear-o?” However, the book’s largest problem is a disconnect between content and audience. The rhyming is appropriate for the younger end of the spectrum but may turn off the older kids, and the tally marks and 3- and 4-digit addition sentences are going to be beyond the younger kids, especially since the math is not really explained. Many of the tiny objects from the first book make a reappearance here in Phillips’ photos, but there are some interesting new additions, most notably colorful marbles and some bright and cheerful aliens.

This is not a book that kids could (or would) pick up on their own without guidance, and teachers are likely still to prefer to use old favorites that do it well. (Math picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8234-23989

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.

THE NIGHT IS YOURS

On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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