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A clever conceit ably rendered; this is bound to prove popular with loving grandparents and caustic kids alike.

A child’s skepticism takes a header when a vacation with Grandma and Grandpa proves more wild than mild.

After getting his iguana (I Wanna Iguana, 2004) and failing to successfully petition for his own space (I Wanna New Room, 2010), Alex returns for a third time, and now the situation’s truly dire. His parents are taking off for Bora Bora, which means he and his siblings are slated to stay with their grandparents for the duration. Broccoli lasagna and the absence of both video games and computers are bound to lead to a terrible time. In his initial, desperate letters and emails written to his vacationing parents, Alex pleads with them to return ASAP. Yet soon, Alex is singing a different tune, as he discovers square dancing, bingo, stickball and other wonderful aspects of old-folk living. Turns out that two weeks just isn’t enough time. The epistolary picture book is hardly a new genre, but it can prove a difficult one. Orloff handles the format as well as the subject with grace and aplomb. Alex’s gradual acceptance of his doting ancestors plays out believably, pairing beautifully with Catrow’s controlled craziness. The pencils, watercolors and inks find the funny in almost every single spread.

A clever conceit ably rendered; this is bound to prove popular with loving grandparents and caustic kids alike. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25407-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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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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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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