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An endearing delivery of a valuable message, to be taken with several grains of salt.

A young schoolgirl learns to follow her own rules despite opposition and pressure in this picture book inspired by Mary Edward Walker.

In the early 1800s, girls weren’t allowed to wear pants. Only “uncomfortable dresses…heavy-and-hot-and-hard-to-breathe-in dresses.” The expressive pink and blue drawings and patterns on ample white space show unhappy, immobile girls, while boys in pants cartwheel, jump, run, and play. But one day Mary has an idea. She wears pants. The townspeople are shocked! They heckle her, they throw things at her, they tell her not to wear boys’ clothes. In a touching scene, she sits with her father and asks if she should stop wearing pants. He says that people sometimes fear what they don’t understand, but he doesn’t tell her what to do. She decides to stick with her decision: “I’m wearing my clothes!” In the end, she’s a trendsetter. The constant association of skirts with frowns and pants with happiness oversimplifies both the historical moment and a modern-day environment in which skirts are the norm in many cultures. The sudden appearance of all the girls in pants (and smiles) at the end as well as multiracial faces among both hecklers and classmates make this more of a story than a biography. But the example of following one’s inner compass and bucking the status quo comes across loud and clear. A note on the historical Walker, a white woman who served as a surgeon during the Civil War, is appended.

An endearing delivery of a valuable message, to be taken with several grains of salt. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-284679-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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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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From the Growing With Buddy series , Vol. 3

Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient.

How do you make a new friend when an old one moves away?

Buddy (from Sorry, Grown-Ups, You Can’t Go to School, 2019, etc.) is feeling lonely. His best friend just moved across town. To make matters worse, there is a field trip coming up, and Buddy needs a bus partner. His sister, Lady, has some helpful advice for making a new pal: “You just need to find something you have in common.” Buddy loves the game Robo Chargers and karate. Surely there is someone else who does, too! Unfortunately, there isn’t. However, when a new student arrives (one day later) and asks everyone to call her Sunny instead of Alison, Buddy gets excited. No one uses his given name, either; they just call him Buddy. He secretly whispers his “real, official name” to Sunny at lunch—an indication that a true friendship is being formed. The rest of the story plods merrily along, all pieces falling exactly into place (she even likes Robo Chargers!), accompanied by Bowers’ digital art, a mix of spot art and full-bleed illustrations. Friendship-building can be an emotionally charged event in a child’s life—young readers will certainly see themselves in Buddy’s plight—but, alas, there is not much storytelling magic to be found. Buddy and his family are White, Sunny and Mr. Teacher are Black, and Buddy’s other classmates are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-30709-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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