IN ENGLISH, OF COURSE

A plucky small girl in a new classroom manages to tell a story in English, even though it isn’t quite the one she intended. It’s 1955: Josephine’s teacher asks each student to tell a bit about themselves and where they are from. She listens carefully to Ling-Li and to Juan, but although she understands a lot of English, she’s not sure she has all the words she needs. When she tells the class she is from Napoli, Italia, her teacher asks if she lived on a farm, and she replies, “I go to farm one time.” From this single visit, with coaching from her teacher, Josephine reconstructs being kicked by a cow, and the cow pushed by a pig, into a river, and her getting them both out of the water. Josephine’s inventive dialogue captures the sound of a person searching for the shape of the right English word, and her success spurs her to go home to ask her parents how to say “Roman ruins” and “architectural engineers”—in English, of course. Ziborova’s (Crispin the Turtle, not reviewed) exuberant cut-paper and mixed-media collages are a fine foil for the text: Josephine’s elegant male teacher wears pinstripes; pictures and sketches of Naples float over architectural diagrams, and the cow and the pig have comically exaggerated features. Josephine herself wears a ’50s schoolgirl suit and a beret, and her quicksilver expressions might remind one of the illimitable Eloise. An author’s postscript relates Josephine’s story to the author’s own life as a child in Little Italy in the Bronx, but any child will respond to the joy of Josephine’s storytelling. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-940112-07-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Gingerbread House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2002

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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FIRST GRADE, HERE I COME!

Henry has graduated from kindergarten, but that doesn’t mean he has necessarily left it behind. When his mother asks how his first day in first grade went, he says, “I didn’t like it because I missed kindergarten.” His mother encourages him to talk about it. As Henry goes about debriefing her, he develops a whole new picture. The teacher was new—and a man!—but he was also a good guy, as evidenced by the fact that he liked Henry’s pet worm. There were new kids, too, but Henry had already made a friend in Oswaldo. There was a cool science corner with a really fast guinea pig (discovered when you just happen to open Curly’s cage door). Minor problems are knit up, a little independence is dispensed and the first day of first grade turns out actually to be pretty neat. Prospective first-graders will find Carlson’s story enormously buoyant, floating those first-day cares away on the backs of her sweet, lopsided characters. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-670-06127-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2006

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