FIRSTS & LASTS

THE CHANGING SEASONS

Seasonal rituals come alive in this by turns bittersweet and joyful ode to beginnings and endings.

A celebration of the harbingers and vestiges of seasonal change.

Beginning with spring, each of the four temperate seasons is introduced by a double-page montage of seasonally specific images to prompt discussion and sharpen predictive skills. For example, “spring is…” tulips and daffodils, birds’ nests, planting seeds, rainbows after a rain shower, etc. The main thrust of the text, however, is its description of activities associated with the transitions between seasons. Summer’s arrival, for instance, marks “the last time we wear flannel pajamas, // the last time we sleep with the windows closed,” and so on. A plethora of sensory details highlights the joys of a simple, but rich, childhood—splashing in mud puddles, learning to ride a bicycle without training wheels, the sound of June bugs hitting window screens, being “too hot to move,” enjoying the last ice cream cone from a seasonal stand, and the “silence of snow.” Activities like bird-watching, gardening, biking, and insect investigation model active living. Robin’s cut-paper collages are charmingly old-fashioned yet still feel relevant and fun, and they use color palettes that shift with the seasons. The story is set in a small rural town, and all characters appear White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Seasonal rituals come alive in this by turns bittersweet and joyful ode to beginnings and endings. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1102-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

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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