This story makes “Virtue is its own reward” seem original and kind of a blast.

NOT YETI

This may not be the best picture book for Billy Joel or John Milton.

Milton was accused of belonging to the devil’s party because Satan gets all the best scenes in Paradise Lost. Joel has famously sung that “Only the Good Die Young.” But the goody-two-shoes yeti in this story is much more fun than all the other monsters. Yeti “crochets sweaters for penguins,” the text informs readers. He cheers on newborn sea turtles as they’re scuttling toward the ocean. He tells knock-knock jokes to the trees (“Yew who?”). The nastier monsters kick sand and TP the babysitter, which isn’t terribly original. Even when Yeti brings them warm banana bread, they’re inclined to stuff it up their nostrils. OK, that does look fun, if not very tasty. Yeti’s community service is so entertaining that the jokes in the text feel almost redundant, which is good, because they’re very low-key. When Yeti is described as “abominable,” the reference is so subtle that some readers may not get it till their second or third trip through the book. The pictures are also low-key, in the sense that the monsters come in pastel colors. They look almost dashed-off, but the character designs are imaginative enough that one monster has 16 ears. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80.8% of actual size.)

This story makes “Virtue is its own reward” seem original and kind of a blast. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11407-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

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 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning.

THE MAGICAL YET

Children realize their dreams one step at a time in this story about growth mindset.

A child crashes and damages a new bicycle on a dark, rainy day. Attempting a wheelie, the novice cyclist falls onto the sidewalk, grimacing, and, having internalized this setback as failure, vows to never ride again but to “walk…forever.” Then the unnamed protagonist happens upon a glowing orb in the forest, a “thought rearranger-er”—a luminous pink fairy called the Magical Yet. This Yet reminds the child of past accomplishments and encourages perseverance. The second-person rhyming couplets remind readers that mistakes are part of learning and that with patience and effort, children can achieve. Readers see the protagonist learn to ride the bike before a flash-forward shows the child as a capable college graduate confidently designing a sleek new bike. This book shines with diversity: racial, ethnic, ability, and gender. The gender-indeterminate protagonist has light brown skin and exuberant curly locks; Amid the bustling secondary cast, one child uses a prosthesis, and another wears hijab. At no point in the text is the Yet defined as a metaphor for a growth mindset; adults reading with younger children will likely need to clarify this abstract lesson. The artwork is powerful and detailed—pay special attention to the endpapers that progress to show the Yet at work.

A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02562-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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