A pink and purple sparkling celebration of self-expression.

Annabelle and Benjamin love playing dress-up, but they both want to be the princess.

Benjamin, a light-skinned child with blond hair, always wants to be the bride, ballerina, or princess. His friend Annabelle, who has brown skin and dark brown hair, dutifully dons groom and prince costumes, but she wants to be the princess herself. Benjamin doesn’t want to give up his role, but luckily, it turns out there can be more than one princess. The story is told in rhyming verse that gives it a fairy-tale or nursery-rhyme feel, with artwork dominated by twinkling stars and hues of pink and purple. There have been a number of picture books that have told boys it’s OK to wear dresses, but this one handles the topic of gender expression with particular nuance and care. Young readers are most likely to notice the messages that sharing and taking turns are important. Yet without directly saying it, Newman also makes clear that it’s perfectly fine to be either gender-conforming or gender-nonconforming. The characters’ decision to play as two princesses without a prince distances them from the heteronormative romance narrative that can underlie even gender-nonconforming play. With the appearance of additional, racially diverse friends of varying gender expressions at the end, the book encourages readers to embrace themselves, no matter what that looks like. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A pink and purple sparkling celebration of self-expression. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781419757099

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023


Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes.

Oscar winner McConaughey offers intriguing life observations.

The series of pithy, wry comments, each starting with the phrase “Just because,” makes clear that each of us is a mass of contradictions: “Just because we’re friends, / doesn’t mean you can’t burn me. / Just because I’m stubborn, / doesn’t mean that you can’t turn me.” Witty, digitally rendered vignettes portray youngsters diverse in terms of race and ability (occasionally with pets looking on) dealing with everything from friendship drama to a nerve-wracking footrace. “Just because I’m dirty, / doesn’t mean I can’t get clean” is paired with an image of a youngster taking a bath while another character (possibly an older sibling) sits nearby, smiling. “Just because you’re nice, / doesn’t mean you can’t get mean” depicts the older one berating the younger one for tracking mud into the house. The artwork effectively brings to life the succinct, rhyming text and will help readers make sense of it. Perhaps, after studying the illustrations and gaining further insight into the comments, kids will reread and reflect upon them further. The final page unites the characters from earlier pages with a reassuring message for readers: “Just because the sun has set, / doesn’t mean it will not rise. / Because every day is a gift, / each one a new surprise. BELIEVE IT.” As a follow-up, readers should be encouraged to make their own suggestions to complete the titular phrase. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780593622032

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


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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