Lighthearted, cursory look at the symbols needed to make sense of English writing.

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THE DAY PUNCTUATION CAME TO TOWN

The Punctuation family has arrived in Alphabet City.

Exclamation Point, Question Mark, Comma, and Period are ready to attend school. Everyone is excited except shy Comma with his large, round, red glasses. The other siblings know their special jobs when they meet their fellow students, the alphabet letters. “But Comma? Comma tried not to get stepped on and fit in wherever he could.” The accompanying double-page illustration demonstrates each symbol’s important role: “wow” ends with Exclamation Point, “who” ends with Question Mark, “stop” ends with Period—and Comma tries to break up “ohno” but has a hard time inserting himself. (No capital letters here, as these letters are children.) The variously colored alphabet letters and the purple punctuation symbols take on singular personalities with amusing human features: pipestem arms and legs, baseball caps, hairstyles, glasses, faces, and freckles. Purple letters in the text emphasize the symbol names, although the contrast makes this fairly ineffective. As the story develops, the letters get a little rambunctious, the punctuation symbols work hard to organize them, and Comma realizes his essential place. “From now on, I’ll help keep things in order.” The story is slight, but with adult intervention, it could serve as an introductory look at punctuation in settings where the detailed, humorous illustrations can be seen up close.

Lighthearted, cursory look at the symbols needed to make sense of English writing. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64170-145-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Familius

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Laugh-out-loud fun for all.

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NANETTE'S BAGUETTE

Hilarious complications ensue when Nanette’s mom gives her the responsibility of buying the family baguette.

She sets out on her errand and encounters lots of distractions along the way as she meets and greets Georgette, Suzette, Bret with his clarinet, Mr. Barnett and his pet, Antoinette. But she remembers her mission and buys the baguette from Juliette the baker. And oh, it is a wonderful large, warm, aromatic hunk of bread, so Nanette takes a taste and another and more—until there is nothing left. Maybe she needs to take a jet to Tibet. But she faces her mother and finds understanding, tenderness, and a surprise twist. Willems is at his outlandish best with line after line of “ettes” and their absurd rhymes, all the while demonstrating a deep knowledge of children’s thought processes. Nanette and the entire cast of characters are bright green frogs with very large round eyes, heavily outlined in black and clad in eccentric clothing and hats. A highly detailed village constructed of cardboard forms the background for Nanette’s adventures. Her every emotion explodes all over the pages in wildly expressive, colorful vignettes and an eye-popping use of emphatic display type. The endpapers follow the fate of the baguette from fresh and whole to chewed and gone. Demands for encores will surely follow.

Laugh-out-loud fun for all. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2286-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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For places where the first-grade shelves are particularly thin.

ON THE FIRST DAY OF FIRST GRADE

The traditional song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” gets a school makeover as readers follow a cheery narrator through the first 12 days of first grade.

“On the first day of first grade / I had fun right away // laughing and learning all day!” In these first two spreads, Jennings shows the child, who has brown skin and a cloud of dark-brown hair, entering the schoolyard with a diverse array of classmates and settling in. In the backgrounds, caregivers, including a woman in hijab, stand at the fence and kids hang things on hooks in the back of the room. Each new day sees the child and their friends enjoying new things, previous days’ activities repeated in the verses each time so that those listening will soon be chiming in. The child helps in the classroom, checks out books from the library, plants seeds, practices telling time and counting money, leads the line, performs in a play, shows off a picture of their pet bunny, and does activities in gym, music, and art classes. The Photoshop-and-watercolor illustrations portray adorable and engaged kids having fun while learning with friends. But while the song and topic are the same, this doesn’t come close to touching either the hysterical visuals or great rhythm of Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003).

For places where the first-grade shelves are particularly thin. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266851-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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