Young readers may well be spurred to use Sam’s methodology on their own first days.

THE BEST SEAT IN KINDERGARTEN

A beginning reader introduces readers to one little boy and his method for making new friends.

It’s the first day of kindergarten, and none of the nervous kids know where to sit. Ms. Tate bypasses this problem by taking them all out for a nature walk: “Find something interesting. Then show us what you found.” Each of Sam’s classmates is looking for a different item to add to their bag: Sophie seeks rocks, Miguel’s collecting bugs, Lily wants pine cones, Ollie’s picking flowers, and Nina is bagging acorns. Sam adds to each of their collections, but his own bag remains empty. So when it’s time to share what they found, Sam’s response is “Friends!” Meant for shared reading between an experienced reader and a new learner, this My First level title in the I Can Read! line features lots of repetition, patterned text, and short sentences (though the vocabulary poses an appropriate challenge). One niggling detail is the inapt title of this book. When the kids reenter the classroom, they all suddenly know where to sit without instruction. Carter’s watercolors provide context clues and depict a diverse classroom; Sam presents white while Ms. Tate has pale skin and straight, black hair.

Young readers may well be spurred to use Sam’s methodology on their own first days. (Early reader. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-268640-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A spunky and sincere picture book about body positivity.

BEAUTIFULLY ME

Zubi Chowdhury is thrilled about her first day of school.

She’s got a special outfit picked out: a pink shirt paired with overalls tailored in Bangladesh. She’s got her hair in a special style: two bouncy, perfect pigtails. And she’s got the perfect accessories: butterfly clips and bangles. Zubi feels gorgeous—but the rest of her Bangladeshi Muslim family doesn’t. Her mother bemoans her large stomach, her older sister, Naya, is on a diet in preparation for the school dance, and her father frets about how much weight he’s recently gained. Then, at school, Zubi’s classmate Kennedy calls their classmate Alix fat. Zubi—who illustrations reveal is fat—has always loved her body, but after this onslaught of negative messaging at home and in the schoolyard, she wonders if she’s deluding herself. At dinner, she decides to go on a diet. When she announces this to her family, her parents, siblings, and grandmother launch into a round of self-reflection that culminates in a frank conversation about what it really means to be beautiful. This warmly illustrated picture book features characters with varying body types, skin colors, and hair textures. Zubi’s slow descent from self-confidence to self-doubt realistically brings to light the subtle messages children get from friends and family about which bodies are valued and which are not. Zubi’s conversation with her family is a model for parents and children alike. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A spunky and sincere picture book about body positivity. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-8587-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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