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

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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 treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year.

LOVE MONSTER AND THE LAST CHOCOLATE

From the Love Monster series

The surprised recipient of a box of chocolates agonizes over whether to eat the whole box himself or share with his friends.

Love Monster is a chocoholic, so when he discovers the box on his doorstep, his mouth waters just thinking about what might be inside; his favorite’s a double chocolate strawberry swirl. The brief thought that he should share these treats with his friends is easily rationalized away. Maybe there won’t be enough for everyone, perhaps someone will eat his favorite, or, even worse, leave him with his least favorite: the coffee one! Bright’s pacing and tone are on target throughout, her words conveying to readers exactly what the monster is thinking and feeling: “So he went into his house. And so did the box of chocolates…without a whisper of a word to anyone.” This is followed by a “queasy-squeezy” feeling akin to guilt and then by a full-tilt run to his friends, chocolates in hand, and a breathless, stream-of-consciousness confession, only to be brought up short by what’s actually in the box. And the moral is just right: “You see, sometimes it’s when you stop to think of others…that you start to find out just how much they think of you.” Monster’s wide eyes and toothy mouth convey his emotions wonderfully, and the simple backgrounds keep the focus on his struggle.

A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-00-754030-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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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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