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Subversion in the salad! Destabilization with dressing! Social constructs fall by the wayside in this clever review.

A lesson in agriculture has larger implications in this deep dive into what constitutes a vegetable.

Sent to the community garden next door to pick some veggies for a meal, young Chester, who presents as Asian, is quick to discover that every supposed “vegetable” he encounters declares itself to be something else entirely. The broccoli claims to be a flower, the potato, a root, and the kale, a leaf. In fact, the supposed veggies all make the startling argument that there’s no such thing as vegetables. Chester attempts to fight back with facts, but every definition falls apart. Veggies are plants? So are trees. They don’t have sugar, suggests Chester. What about sugar beets? They’re good in salads? So’s bacon! Lukoff isn’t attempting to break down taxonomies but is instead making a larger point about the sometimes arbitrary ways in which humans label our world. Larger points about semantic satiation and social constructs may be lost on the elementary school crowd, but a story about plants arguing their way out of a salad bowl is funny no matter how you slice it. It helps enormously that the art is by Tsurumi, a master of hilarious visual gags and irate tomatoes, who brings to life in a cartoon-based format the gently defiant edibles.

Subversion in the salad! Destabilization with dressing! Social constructs fall by the wayside in this clever review. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2024

ISBN: 9781250867841

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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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 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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