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A sweet addition to the back-to-school shelf.

A peek into a classroom that may ease some little ones’ first-day jitters.

This isn’t just any ordinary classroom; this one has anthropomorphic animal students, a fox teacher, and two worms for comic relief. Bear, Duck, Turtle, Rabbit, Porcupine, and Hedgehog make sure to follow the school rules: “be on time…and ready to learn,” listen, work individually and together, play, clean up, line up, be polite, “look out for each other,” “give new things a chance,” “share ideas,” express yourself, and take pride in your work. Readers follow along as the students go through a typical school day full of familiar or expected activities and sights: sitting at tables, raising hands, recess, classroom shelves of books and toys, lunch, the ever popular parachute in gym, sharing time, art. Along the way, the two worms will likely crack children up with their antics: They form the number 11 at the top of the hopscotch board and play their own version of parachute with a leaf; during sharing time, one flies across the room in a paper airplane. Fleck’s pencil-and-digital illustrations bring to life the care the students feel for and show one another, and George has a couple sentences that really hit at the heart of the matter: “Mistakes are part of learning,” and “we try to be our best. Not the best. Our best.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet addition to the back-to-school shelf. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 13, 2023

ISBN: 9780593378786

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023

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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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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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