Infectiously delightful.

READ REVIEW

THE MAGIC BOAT

A shy girl bonds with new friends through the wonders of imagination in this Canadian collaboration.

Ellie spends the summer with her grandmother at the beach. Too nervous to approach the other children, the young white girl keeps mostly to herself making sand castles and playing in the cool water until, while collecting pebbles, she happens upon Piper, an older girl of color who has a magic boat. Ellie is skeptical at first, but her doubts disappear as Piper takes them out to sea, racing on the water and surrounded by marine life. Moments later, the girls are flying as the boat turns into a balloon, and they share the sky with several birds and an intrepid ladybug. That is, until Nonna calls the pair to lunch. Pearson and Farris’ prose moves seamlessly from the easy unhurriedness of summer play to the weightier awe of discovery. Grimard keeps visual pace with warm watercolors and pencil-sketched shading and lines that feel light but never fluffy, capturing the dynamic fluidity between real and pretend. The illustrations do, at times, feel as though they are missing some elements mentioned in the text—the emphasis on discovery prompts readers to scour the pages for the wildlife being mentioned, for instance. But an overall and well-developed theme of imagination and connection (even when you’re nervous) far outweighs the small gaps.

Infectiously delightful. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1432-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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