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From the How To... series

A clever way to ensure everyone is ready for the first day.

After all the school-supply shopping and the back-to-school night, students are ready for their first days of school, but what about their teachers?

In this primer, Reagan and Wildish (How to Raise a Mom, 2017, etc.) teach kids how to make their teachers feel welcome in their classrooms and how to ease their fears about the first day and the many special days sprinkled throughout the calendar. It’s a clever ruse that just may work on those kids who are very nervous—after all, easing someone else’s fears often soothes one’s own, not to mention the fact that by going through the school day and year, the book is prepping readers for what they can expect. From greeting your teacher with a big smile and putting on a smock in the art room to combing your hair and avoiding messy snacks on picture day and counting to 100 many ways on the 100th day, the basics are all covered. Wildish’s teacher is a white woman with brown hair, her class a mix of genders and skin and hair colors; one child sports glasses. Vignette, full-, and double-page illustrations against solid or simple backgrounds keep the focus on what children can expect at school, though emotion tends to be rather one-note (happy) and the kids lack the individual personalities of those in Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten.

A clever way to ensure everyone is ready for the first day. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-53825-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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