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MILA MISSES MOMMY

From the Mila series

This Dutch/Flemish import doesn’t quite accomplish what it sets out to do.

Mila misses Mommy, but her teacher and friends at school help her get through the day.

Mila, a small Black girl, lives with her mommy on some days and with her daddy on others. Today, her mommy drops her off at school and must leave without ceremony. Her racially diverse classmates are playing with puzzles and building towers, but Mila doesn’t feel like joining in. When it’s time to clean up and time for snack, Mila doesn’t feel like tidying or eating. Her tummy hurts. Her teacher, who is White, diagnoses the problem as a case of Mila missing her mommy. She assures Mila that everyone misses their mommy sometimes. After her friends agree, they play dress-up with Mila to help her forget about her sadness. Mila feels better and appreciates her friends. The narrative is written in a simple, repetitive first-person voice from Mila’s point of view. Mila’s plight is a familiar one, and the diagnosis and solution are somewhat instructive. However, the provision of answers and solutions from others feels unsatisfying, and the switch in her focus through distraction falls flat. The illustrations, saturated with bright colors and textured like crayon drawings, do little to clarify Mila’s emotional state or enhance the story arc. The thin, all-black, faux handprinting type is a bit difficult to read, particularly when set against dark backgrounds.

This Dutch/Flemish import doesn’t quite accomplish what it sets out to do. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-60537-623-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Clavis

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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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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