Mostly gnomerrific.



A smooth-faced gnome embraces being different.

Everygnome is preparing for the most important event of the year, the Beards International Gnome-athlon. Unlike most gnomes, Al can’t grow a beard. How will he win a trophy for Longest Beard, Bushiest Beard, or even Overall Best Beard? Luckily, Al gets an idea…but it doesn’t go over too well. His long “beard”—made out of tiny white butterflies—flitters away during the first contest. During the second contest, his red bushy “beard” scampers away when the judge exposes the squirrel hiding beneath Al’s hat. And his third “beard” falls before the moss can stick! Defeated, Al returns home to trim some shrubbery. When Gnorm, Al’s best friend, needs help with cutting tree sap out of his beard, Al gets to work, trimming Gnorm’s beard into a snappy (and different) new shape. Gnorm’s new beard impresses the other gnomes, and soon Al’s in very high demand. The story here leads up to a predictably upbeat ending, but Mayer wrings a lot of charm out of a thin setup, specifically through a humorous narrative voice. Full of soft colors and gentle curves, Horton’s illustrations brim with detail, from each individual gnome (mostly light-skinned, including Al and Gnorm, though there are some brown-skinned ones) to the overabundant greenery. Though the story’s central message falls a tad flat, it offers younger readers clear enough hope that it’s OK to be different.

Mostly gnomerrific. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-11127-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)


A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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