A message-driven text at odds with the art’s fantasy and whimsy.

THE BOY WHO CRIED

Poor Billy.

While some stories send the message that it’s OK for boys to cry, the pale-skinned boy in this picture book needs no such assurance. He cries freely, often, and at the slightest provocation; what he needs is help achieving emotional regulation. Fed up with his tantrum over not getting a toy he wanted while out with his mother, Billy’s parents send him to his room, where he weeps and wails, with only his cat to comfort him. Before he falls asleep his mother says that his “tears have flooded the house up to my ankles!”; his father says the flood has reached his knees. Text and art suggest that readers should accept this literally, but readers may wonder whether it is in fact figurative speech that then provokes Billy’s dream of being adrift in a sea of his own tears. Ultimately Tubbs the cat saves the day by drinking down all those tears, then sending Billy falling back into wakefulness and out of his dream. He immediately finds his parents, lesson learned: “while it’s okay to cry sometimes, throwing a tantrum only causes a flood of problems!” This moralistic conclusion offers no practical strategies for readers coming to the book with similar emotional issues. Le’s illustrations feature fine, black outlines and rich colors set on backgrounds that suggest mottled textures.

A message-driven text at odds with the art’s fantasy and whimsy. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60887-730-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Insight Kids

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere.

THE QUEEN OF KINDERGARTEN

Barnes and Brantley-Newton team up for a follow-up to The King of Kindergarten (2019).

From the very first page, it’s clear that young MJ Malone is ready to face the world—and school. Once Mom bestows her with a glittery tiara and dubs her the queen of kindergarten, MJ is determined to fulfill her duties—brighten up every room she enters, treat others with kindness, and offer a helping hand. Barnes infuses each page with humor and a sense of grace as the immensely likable MJ makes the most of her first day. Barnes’ prose is entertaining and heartwarming, while Brantley-Newton’s vivid and playful artwork will be easily recognizable for anyone who’s seen her work (Grandma’s Purse, 2018; Becoming Vanessa, 2021). The illustrator adds verve to the bold young heroine’s character—from the colorful barrettes to the textured appearance of her adorable denim jumper, the girl has style and substance. MJ Malone embodies the can-do spirit every parent hopes to spark in their own children, though even shy kindergarteners will gladly find a friend in her. MJ and her family are Black; her classroom is diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 24, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-11142-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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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

From the Big Bright Feelings series

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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