OUR CORNER GROCERY STORE

Anyone would be lucky to live near a grocery store like Anna Maria’s Italian grandparents’ charming place. (Note: readers unfamiliar with the words nonno and nonna won’t know the store owners are the girl’s grandparents.) More chronicle than plot-driven story, this gentle book tracks young Anna Maria’s Saturday as she helps out at the store, from arranging produce displays to greeting customers (“Ciao!”) to end-of-day cleanup. Matter-of-fact descriptions are contagiously satisfying: “I make sure everything is in neat rows, while Nonno Domenico writes the prices on little cardboard signs” and “We sold lots of tomatoes and lettuce today, and every single box of strawberries.” Children will devour Beingessner’s wonderfully detailed illustrations, which lovingly depict the store’s bounty—especially the enticing candy counter—in a delicately etched style reminiscent of Roz Chast’s hand-lettered cartoons. (Don’t miss the cat in every spread!) Occasionally, the text is excessively descriptive (the candies listed in the text are clearly labeled in the artwork, for example), but overall, this warm, home-baked offering from Toronto is an affectionate tribute to small nonno-and-nonna stores everywhere. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-88776-868-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

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 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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