This may not be the most obvious first choice for a storytime or for a young reader to pick up; rather, it is a deceptively...

THE FULL HOUSE AND THE EMPTY HOUSE

This allegory about friendship that bridges difference and perceived inequality is quietly yet effectively told in an understated tone.

Two similar-looking houses are friends. Their differences are compellingly shown rather than told: “On the outside / they looked much the same” is followed by two spreads. The first shows a comfortable interior with a sofa, end table, and art on the walls along with the words “But on the inside— ”; the second reveals a bare room and the sentence’s conclusion: “—the two houses were quite different.” Inanimate objects may seem to be unusual choices as characters, but this approach depersonalizes the implied relative difference in wealth. Ink illustrations, done in a limited palette of brown, salmon, and turquoise on a mustard background, have a naïve look that emulates woodblock prints. They suitably interpret the quiet tone of the text, which avoids becoming celebratory about overcoming difference and imbalance. Neither of these two houses is better than the other; they are simply friends, each with something to offer the other. Refreshingly, the full house doesn’t minister to the empty one, and the empty one doesn’t owe the full one any thanks.

This may not be the most obvious first choice for a storytime or for a young reader to pick up; rather, it is a deceptively powerful, timely message in the guise of a quiet, old-fashioned package. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9990249-3-5

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Ripple Grove

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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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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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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