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MILA AND HER FRIENDS

From the Mila series , Vol. 5

A simple and fun story that beckons kids to imagine.

A great day of monster play!

Mila, who splits her time between her mom’s and her dad’s houses, asks if her friends Sam and Liza can play at her dad’s house after school. Once Sam’s and Liza’s parents agree, Daddy picks all three of them up, dubs them “little monsters,” then carries the monster theme throughout the afternoon. Daddy cooks monster pancakes with strawberry jam and provides glittery hair gel for making “monster hair” (which Daddy also uses), and then they all dress up like monsters. When the mommies return, four monsters and Mila’s exuberant dog greet them at the door. Simple and utterly cheerful, the story offers a positive representation of a single-parent household, with a dad who is fully engaged in his child’s life and completely invested in participating in her fantasy life. Nijs’ illustrations, similar to the Canadian Caillou books and TV series, feature vibrant colors and simple backgrounds. While the adults look distinct from one another, the children’s simple facial features are so similar that complexion is their primary distinguishing feature. Mila and her father are Black, Liza and her mother are light-skinned, and Sam and his mother are brown-skinned; Sam’s mother wears a headscarf. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A simple and fun story that beckons kids to imagine. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-60537-744-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clavis

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

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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