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Tender, affirming, and relevant for all families and communities.

Hands are for touching, connecting, and loving—even from far away.

A brown-skinned child with dark hair lives in a big apartment building in a busy city. There’s a big bright yellow painted handprint set against a heart on one otherwise plain wall of the building. Racially diverse neighbors stop by; pressing their hands against the print, they reconnect with faraway or deceased loved ones as the wall transforms into a poignant remembered scene. Ms. Iris, who presents Asian, recalls cooking with her family back in her home country. Young Savannah, cued Latine, remembers assembling a puzzle with her late abuela, while Amani and Eli are reminded of their father, a migrant worker who went south recently. Yamasaki’s spare, expressive text pairs beautifully with lush, vivid scenes full of tiny, discoverable details. Images of people flying off in paper airplanes or walking across a rainbow bridge represent ways to connect with those who aren’t present. The protagonist, it turns out, has a story, too, one that inspired the creation of this magical handprint in the hopes a loved one will come home soon. In an author’s note, Yamasaki describes how her experiences making art with incarcerated women living in Mexico and the United States inspired this story; she includes a list of organizations that help families affected by incarceration. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Tender, affirming, and relevant for all families and communities. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9781324017035

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2023

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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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