Poetic, inspiring, and beautifully illustrated.

GOODNIGHT STAR, WHOEVER YOU ARE

In this picture book, a boy is comforted with the knowledge that love endures.

After a great day at the beach with his mom, the young narrator notices a star in the darkening sky that seems to follow him. Rubbing his eyes in disbelief doesn’t make it go away. His mother is too busy driving to look, but she explains that the star’s distance creates an optical illusion, according to science. But, she adds, her personal belief is that such a star signifies that someone you love, even if absent, continues to care for you. A star may be temporarily obscured in the daytime or by a cloud, but it is still there. Remembering those he’s lost—his father, grandmother, and cat—the boy feels the brightness always present in the dark. In her second picture book, Meltzer offers a simple, powerful metaphor for the unbreakable bonds that persist past death in terms kids can understand. Compassionate but not saccharine, the book’s lyricism matches its hopeful message. Camarra, who also illustrated Meltzer’s previous picture book, combines rich swatches of color with images seemingly collaged from paper scraps in an exuberant, appealing faux naif style. An “I Remember” page for readers to write down memories of the departed is included.

Poetic, inspiring, and beautifully illustrated.  

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64543-897-7

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Mascot Books

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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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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Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale.

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL

From the You Are (Not) Small series

Fuzzy, bearlike creatures of different sizes relate to one another in an amusing story that explores the relative nature of size.

A small purple creature meets a similarly shaped but much larger orange critter. The purple creature maintains that the orange creature is “big”; the orange one counters by calling the purple one “small.” This continues, devolving into a very funny shouting match, pages full of each type of creature hollering across the gutter. This is followed by a show-stopping double-page spread depicting two huge, blue legs and the single word “Boom!” in huge display type. Tiny, pink critters then float down by parachute, further complicating the size comparisons. Eventually, these brightly colored animals learn to see things in a different way. In the end, they decide they are all hungry and trudge off to eat together. The story is told effectively with just a few words per page, though younger readers might need help understanding the size and perspective concepts. Cartoon-style illustrations in ink and watercolor use simple shapes with heavy black outlines set off by lots of white space, with an oversized format and large typeface adding to the spare but polished design. While the story itself seems simple, the concepts are pertinent to several important social issues such as bullying and racism, as well as understanding point of view.

Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4772-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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