Kids enjoying the intricate visuals won’t worry that the story doesn’t make much sense.

READ REVIEW

THE FLEATASTICS

It’s “the greatest show on dogs!”

Born on a drowsy basset hound, Sarafleana is a natural jumper. Snoozer the hound is actually home to a community of fleas; his pelt even boasts its own acrobatic troupe, The Fleatastics. Sarafleana and her siblings easily impress Mr. Itchy, the troupe’s leader, and Sarafleana seems destined for the tippy-top of the Parasite Pyramid. But that would mean staying still, and she doesn’t want to. Earning acclaim as “THE HIGHEST-JUMPING FLEA EVER” is her dream. One morning when Snoozer is at the dog park, the flea circus packs up and parachutes to Sparky, a dog napping nearby. As the crew sets up the circus tent and the hot dog stand, Sarafleana secretly practices. The circus begins, and Sarafleana’s siblings build their pyramid. She goes to the top, planning to impress everyone with her jumping. But, inexplicably, she can’t leap. The show continues and is at its fleanale when a child in the audience calls out for “another TREAT!” Uh-oh. Sparky perks up and starts to scratch, threatening the flea circus. Sarafleana becomes a hero by jumping all over and shouting “Treat,” distracting Sparky and allowing everyone to flee to safety. Desimini’s story is more than a bit disjointed, but her universe of fleas delights with boundless imagination and pockets of hilarious flea dialogue, vivaciously depicted.

Kids enjoying the intricate visuals won’t worry that the story doesn’t make much sense. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62979-303-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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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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