THE SECRET OF BLACK ROCK

After a courageous young girl befriends a legendary creature, she must stop the frightened villagers from attacking it.

With ivory hair and pale white skin, Erin Pike lives in a quaint seaside town with her spotted hound, Archie, and her fisherwoman mother. The people of her town all tell tales of the horrible monster Black Rock, a fearsome and gigantic nautical creature capable of moving throughout the seas and tearing boats to pieces. Undaunted by the whispers, Erin stows away on her mother’s boat to find the monster. She discovers, however, that Black Rock is a gentle being who follows the plethora of beautiful aquatic life that inhabits the sea. When the townsfolk decide to attack Black Rock, will one small girl be able to stop them? Todd-Stanton’s tale is, at first glance, a deceptively simple tale of acceptance and bravery. However, he deftly infuses his narrative with quiet depth, including a positive ecological slant in which nature wins over machines, and portrays Erin’s single mother succeeding in a typically male-dominated profession. The illustrations are dazzling and vibrantly hued, the rich palette just right for the resplendent undersea scenes that adroitly float young readers’ sense of magic just under the surface of the mundane.

A winner on many levels. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-911171-25-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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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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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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