A gentle reminder of the danger of preconceived notions.

FELIX AND THE MONSTERS

A guard halfheartedly does his job but deep inside has a musical soul.

Felix’s job is to guard a wall and keep his side safe from the monsters on the other side. But what he really likes to do is rock out on his keytar and pretend he is in a band. None of the other guards understand his passion. Instead of wielding a spear or a shield, Felix grabs his keytar and plays “epic solos.” One day, someone joins him. Sounds of a bass guitar float over from the other side of the wall! A small, red, saucer-eared creature named Dot has been “lured…by the beautiful sounds of that portable piano machine.” The temptation to create sweet beats together is too strong—Felix jump to Dot’s side of the wall, and they jam. Felix finds a shocking revelation: The monsters are not monstrous at all. When his fellow guards come crashing in, ready to save him, Felix isn’t sure he wants to go back. In the illustrations, on Felix’s side, everything has sharp, blocklike angles (even the guards). On Dot’s side everything is rounded and smooth. Blue, thimble-shaped Felix himself is a combination of both aesthetics. The conclusion rushes toward happiness and reads a bit slapdash, but it is winsome just the same. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 47% of actual size.)

A gentle reminder of the danger of preconceived notions. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11052-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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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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The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited.

LET'S DANCE!

Dancing is one of the most universal elements of cultures the world over.

In onomatopoeic, rhyming text, Bolling encourages readers to dance in styles including folk dance, classical ballet, breakdancing, and line dancing. Read aloud, the zippy text will engage young children: “Tappity Tap / Fingers Snap,” reads the rhyme on the double-page spread for flamenco; “Jiggity-Jig / Zig-zag-zig” describes Irish step dancing. The ballet pages stereotypically include only children in dresses or tutus, but one of these dancers wears hijab. Overall, children included are racially diverse and vary in gender presentation. Diaz’s illustrations show her background in animated films; her active child dancers generally have the large-eyed sameness of cartoon characters. The endpapers, with shoes and musical instruments, could become a matching game with pages in the book. The dances depicted are described at the end, including kathak from India and kuku from Guinea, West Africa. Unfortunately, these explanations are quite rudimentary. Kathak dancers use their facial expressions extensively in addition to the “movements of their hands and their jingling feet,” as described in the book. Although today kuku is danced at all types of celebrations in several countries, it was once done after fishing, an activity acknowledged in the illustrations but not mentioned in the explanatory text.

The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63592-142-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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