A sweet affirmation of jitters and comfort in numbers

MAE’S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

There’s nothing wishy-washy about Mae: She is “not going” to school!

Despite her parents’ best efforts, all Mae sees is “the things that could go wrong.” The other kids might not like her, they all might know how to write (she does not), and she might miss her mother. As soon as she gets to school, she climbs a tree. Maybe she could live there. She’s soon joined by Rosie, who is equally determined not to go to school: Other kids might not play with her, she might be asked to read (she doesn’t know how yet), and she might miss her dad. Then Ms. Pearl climbs up, explaining that she’s not going to school, either: The kids might not like her, she might “forget how to spell Tuesday,” and she might miss her cat. Taking comfort from one another, the three descend to go to school. Berube’s story takes its protagonist’s fears seriously, and even though young readers are likely to anticipate the story’s outcome, its respect for their emotions is clear. Repetition and patterning will help children participate in the telling and anticipate what will happen next. In the bright and splashy illustrations, Mae is depicted with pale skin and a thatch of black hair; Rosie has light brown skin and brown pigtails; Ms. Pearl has brown skin and a poof of tightly curled brown hair.

A sweet affirmation of jitters and comfort in numbers . (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2325-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age.

THE THANKFUL BOOK

Parr focuses his simplistic childlike art and declarative sentences on gratitude for the pleasures and wonders of a child’s everyday life.

Using images of both kids and animals, each colorful scene in bold primary colors declaims a reason to be thankful. “I am thankful for my hair because it makes me unique” shows a yellow-faced child with a wild purple coiffure, indicating self-esteem. An elephant with large pink ears happily exclaims, “I am thankful for my ears because they let me hear words like ‘I love you.’ ” Humor is interjected with, “I am thankful for underwear because I like to wear it on my head.” (Parents will hope that it is clean, but potty-humor–loving children probably won’t care.) Children are encouraged to be thankful for feet, music, school, vacations and the library, “because it is filled with endless adventures,” among other things. The book’s cheery, upbeat message is clearly meant to inspire optimistic gratitude; Parr exhorts children to “remember some [things to be thankful for] every day.”

Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-18101-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one.

WAY PAST WORRIED

Brock may be dressed like a superhero, but he sure doesn’t feel like one, as social anxieties threaten to rain on his fun    .

Juan’s superhero-themed birthday party is about to start, but Brock is feeling trepidatious about attending without his brother as his trusty sidekick. His costume does not fit quite right, and he is already running late, and soon Brock is “way past worried.” When he arrives at the party he takes some deep breaths but is still afraid to jump in and so hides behind a tree. Hiding in the same tree is the similarly nervous Nelly, who’s new to the neighborhood. Through the simple act of sharing their anxieties, the children find themselves ready to face their fears. This true-to-life depiction of social anxiety is simply but effectively rendered. While both Nelly and Brock try taking deep breathes to calm their anxieties without success, it is the act of sharing their worries in a safe space with someone who understands that ultimately brings relief. With similar themes, Brock’s tale would make a lovely companion for Tom Percival’s Ruby Finds a Worry (2019) on social-emotional–development bookshelves. Brock is depicted with black hair and tan skin, Nelly presents White, and peers at the party appear fairly diverse.

Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-8686-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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