A sweet affirmation of jitters and comfort in numbers

READ REVIEW

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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A valuable asset to the library of a child who experiences anxiety and a great book to get children talking about their...

RUBY FINDS A WORRY

Ruby is an adventurous and happy child until the day she discovers a Worry.

Ruby barely sees the Worry—depicted as a blob of yellow with a frowny unibrow—at first, but as it hovers, the more she notices it and the larger it grows. The longer Ruby is affected by this Worry, the fewer colors appear on the page. Though she tries not to pay attention to the Worry, which no one else can see, ignoring it prevents her from enjoying the things that she once loved. Her constant anxiety about the Worry causes the bright yellow blob to crowd Ruby’s everyday life, which by this point is nearly all washes of gray and white. But at the playground, Ruby sees a boy sitting on a bench with a growing sky-blue Worry of his own. When she invites the boy to talk, his Worry begins to shrink—and when Ruby talks about her own Worry, it also grows smaller. By the book’s conclusion, Ruby learns to control her Worry by talking about what worries her, a priceless lesson for any child—or adult—conveyed in a beautifully child-friendly manner. Ruby presents black, with hair in cornrows and two big afro-puff pigtails, while the boy has pale skin and spiky black hair.

A valuable asset to the library of a child who experiences anxiety and a great book to get children talking about their feelings . (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0237-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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