An uplifting book about unlimited potential that’s, sadly, pretty limited.

THE SKY IS THE LIMIT

A CELEBRATION OF ALL THE THINGS YOU CAN DO

A simple exhortation to young children to do all things.

Through this rhythmic narrative, young readers will be tantalized by the activities that are within their reach. Typical suburban, middle-class childhood activities are portrayed, such as riding bikes, swimming in lakes, and playing in treehouses. Additionally, messages about citizenship in action, like mending fences and volunteering for causes, provide children with ideas of how to contribute to the world they live in; themes of working together and imagination are present throughout. There is so much to do and so much yet to come: “Lessons to learn / and books to be read… / each holding a glimpse / of what lies ahead.” Bright and clean-cut cartoons dominated by sunny yellow, blue, and green will infuse readers with feelings of happiness and simplicity. While the rhythmic list depicts a great variety of activities, however, characters are all white as paper, with little to no diversity implied beyond gender presentation cued by stereotypical dress and hairstyle. Both the upbeat celebration of possibility and a spread of characters in graduation gowns place this book as a conceptual companion to Oh, the Places You’ll Go! However, with its avoidance of diversity, it feels very much out of step with the times.

An uplifting book about unlimited potential that’s, sadly, pretty limited. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7982-7

Page Count: 60

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere.

THE QUEEN OF KINDERGARTEN

Barnes and Brantley-Newton team up for a follow-up to The King of Kindergarten (2019).

From the very first page, it’s clear that young MJ Malone is ready to face the world—and school. Once Mom bestows her with a glittery tiara and dubs her the queen of kindergarten, MJ is determined to fulfill her duties—brighten up every room she enters, treat others with kindness, and offer a helping hand. Barnes infuses each page with humor and a sense of grace as the immensely likable MJ makes the most of her first day. Barnes’ prose is entertaining and heartwarming, while Brantley-Newton’s vivid and playful artwork will be easily recognizable for anyone who’s seen her work (Grandma’s Purse, 2018; Becoming Vanessa, 2021). The illustrator adds verve to the bold young heroine’s character—from the colorful barrettes to the textured appearance of her adorable denim jumper, the girl has style and substance. MJ Malone embodies the can-do spirit every parent hopes to spark in their own children, though even shy kindergarteners will gladly find a friend in her. MJ and her family are Black; her classroom is diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 24, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-11142-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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