Encouraging and judgement-free.

DOUG'S DUNG

From the Once Upon a Garden series

A budding artist searches for his strength.

Doug the brown dung beetle appreciates nature. The other dung beetles say he needs to be “strong” and have “power.” They take turns lifting a brown dumbbell. When Doug tries, he can’t lift it, and the others tease him. Belinda the butterfly encourages Doug, reassuring him that he’s “strong in another way.” Petals floating on the breeze give Doug an idea. He covers a large ball of dung in an intricate petal mosaic. For another work of dung art, he uses a heap of bright yellow pollen. He continues to make unique art out of the brown spheres, building a little gallery to display his work. At first, he’s still met with jeers, but he stays “determined” to do this thing that makes him happy. Eventually, the whole garden comes to appreciate his art, and the other dung beetles even make a sculpture to celebrate Doug and ask for lessons on creativity. The text avoids any crass poop jokes, not even defining “dung.” Key message words (“determination,” “resilience,” etc.) appear repeatedly in boldface within the modest text, making the moral clear. The minimalist art gets its job done effectively. Predominant visual symmetry from page to page (the characters always face forward) makes for easy sight recognition for young readers. The large-eyed insects composed of simple shapes appear friendly while the earth-toned dung beetles cheerfully complement the brights of the garden—and thus Doug’s art as well.

Encouraging and judgement-free. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3237-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL!

From the Pigeon series

All the typical worries and excuses kids have about school are filtered through Willems’ hysterical, bus-loving Pigeon.

Told mostly in speech balloons, the bird’s monologue will have kids (and their caregivers) in stitches at Pigeon’s excuses. From already knowing everything (except whatever question readers choose to provide in response to “Go ahead—ask me a question. / Any question!”) to fearing learning too much (“My head might pop off”), Pigeon’s imagination has run wild. Readers familiar with Pigeon will recognize the muted, matte backgrounds that show off the bird’s shenanigans so well. As in previous outings, Willems varies the size of the pigeon on the page to help communicate emotion, the bird teeny small on the double-page spread that illustrates the confession that “I’m… / scared.” And Pigeon’s eight-box rant about all the perils of school (“The unknown stresses me out, dude”) is marvelously followed by the realization (complete with lightbulb thought bubble) that school is the place for students to practice, with experts, all those skills they don’t yet have. But it is the ending that is so Willems, so Pigeon, and so perfect. Pigeon’s last question is “Well, HOW am I supposed to get there, anyway!?!” Readers will readily guess both the answer and Pigeon’s reaction.

Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-04645-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere.

THE QUEEN OF KINDERGARTEN

Barnes and Brantley-Newton team up for a follow-up to The King of Kindergarten (2019).

From the very first page, it’s clear that young MJ Malone is ready to face the world—and school. Once Mom bestows her with a glittery tiara and dubs her the queen of kindergarten, MJ is determined to fulfill her duties—brighten up every room she enters, treat others with kindness, and offer a helping hand. Barnes infuses each page with humor and a sense of grace as the immensely likable MJ makes the most of her first day. Barnes’ prose is entertaining and heartwarming, while Brantley-Newton’s vivid and playful artwork will be easily recognizable for anyone who’s seen her work (Grandma’s Purse, 2018; Becoming Vanessa, 2021). The illustrator adds verve to the bold young heroine’s character—from the colorful barrettes to the textured appearance of her adorable denim jumper, the girl has style and substance. MJ Malone embodies the can-do spirit every parent hopes to spark in their own children, though even shy kindergarteners will gladly find a friend in her. MJ and her family are Black; her classroom is diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 24, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-11142-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more