Beautifully tender and thoughtful.

As children grow, they learn to use their hands to manipulate and create while their minds grasp ever more complex ideas.

A parent speaks directly to a child, telling them how their small hands fit perfectly in the larger adult hands.“ But soon, your hands will grow. And learn.” The child will be able to do things that are practical, messy, bold, and creative and find splendid new experiences in the wider world. Then the parent can let go. But, for now, those small hands still need the strength and encouragement of a loving parent. Stutzman’s poetic text is a sweet, warm, somewhat abstract testament to parents’ protective love, enhanced by Lilly’s loose, quirky pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations, which provide needed, concrete expressions of the theme. They depict three diverse families, neighbors in three attached row houses. Two Black adults, of different skin tones, head one family with a Black child. A brown-skinned couple parent a child who wears hearing aids; the family is cued as Latine. A light-skinned working parent and older adult (perhaps a grandparent) care for a light-skinned child. A page of framed, labeled photos of the children as adults appears toward the end—the narrator’s hopeful predictions for their futures. Sharp-eyed readers will notice carefully crafted details in the vignettes that depict each family’s unique qualities and what they share—namely, their love and closeness. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Beautifully tender and thoughtful. (American Sign Language glossary) (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: March 28, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-42707-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023


Warm but underdone.

In this picture book from actor Gyllenhaal and his partner, Caruso, a child and his uncle bond on a fantastic journey.

Leo, an avid dancer, is dismayed when Uncle Mo visits—he’s in town for a “rubber band convention.” Illustrations show both with wavy brown hair and light tan skin. Not only does Leo think his uncle is rather dull, he’s also leery of Uncle Mo’s many rules. A rather abrupt narrative shift occurs when the pair inexplicably drive into another dimension. Here they encounter Great-Aunt Gloria (who is very tall and presents Black) and Uncle Munkle Carbunkle (who is very short and light-skinned), who guide them through the Secret Society of Aunts & Uncles. Unimpressed with Uncle Mo, Great-Aunt Gloria says he must take a quiz on “Auntieology and Uncleology.” After several wrong answers, Uncle Mo has a final chance at redemption: He must state his nephew’s favorite activity. When Leo springs into action to dance for his clueless uncle, a mishap leaves him mortified and un-bespectacled. Enter Uncle Mo to save the day by using a rubber band to secure Leo’s glasses. While Santat’s energetic illustrations do much to clarify the narrative, they can’t fully make up for the disjointed storytelling—it’s never clear why the two have entered this dimension or why Leo is suddenly so eager to help Uncle Mo. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Warm but underdone. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781250776990

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023


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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