PEARL GOES TO PRESCHOOL

A little girl who loves ballet learns that preschool can also be wonderful.

Preschooler Pearl attends the children’s ballet class that her mother teaches. She loves everything about ballet, but now her mother has suggested a regular preschool class. Pearl has her doubts, but her mother reassures her. Pearl can learn to count, says Mom. Pearl responds by performing and counting the basic ballet positions—in a New York City subway car. Mom also lists other exciting things she can do in preschool, such as finger painting and dressing up. There are stories to read in preschool, like The Nutcracker and even new ones. Pearl is finally convinced and is able to assure stuffed bear Violet. The first day is a success for both Pearl and Violet as the child paints, plays with blocks, drums, and dresses up—and all her activities are suitably balletic. The painting is a swan, the music is a march, and the costume is a mouse. All in all, it’s a good time for a little girl, with dancing the best part, of course. The softly colored illustrations, outlined in black, are very appealing and feature a lovely double-page spread of Pearl and her mother attending a classic ballet performance. She and her mother are white, and the other children are diversely represented, including a boy of color in the ballet class.

Tender and sweet comfort. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0743-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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