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Quirky, earnest—and sweet, indeed.

When two creatures meet, the language skills of one enhance both their lives.

Creature-Of-No-Words—a large, orange being—lacks the words to articulate his experiences. But silence isn’t problematic when Creature-Of-No-Words is gazing peacefully out to sea or happily flinging pebbles skyward. Whether eating something yummy or warming himself by a fire, he seems self-sufficient despite his wordlessness. Yet at other times, he becomes deeply despondent. He thumps his chest, emits “a deep-down belly groan,” and cries. On one such day, the smaller Creature-Of-Words happens by. She knows how to name her moods, that something delicious is a “Treat! Treat!”—and that this big, sad creature needs a “Hug! Hug!” Award-winning poet Agard’s pithy triplets are laced with occasional rhymes. Kitamura’s illustrations, filled with all-over patterns for orange fur, tree bark, and greenery, reinforce Agard’s suggestion that Creature-Of-Words introduces not only language, but civilization. “From that day the two of them lived / together in a house where words also lived, / which was all well and good.” The duo are now silhouetted inside a conventional home (not the male’s previous cave), with word bubbles drifting from the chimney like balloons. The pair’s respective companions—birds and small mammals—form harmonious bonds, too. When enough has been said, all enjoy the “sweet silence” of a “no-words night beside the fire.”

Quirky, earnest—and sweet, indeed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781915252470

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scallywag Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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

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 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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