An inspiring story of perseverance.

Grammy Award–winning artist Diaz’s love letter to music.

“Treasure in the trash!” Canta, a Latine child who each Saturday stares longingly at the instruments on display at the guitar store, is thrilled to find a guitar that someone has thrown out. With Mamá’s encouragement (“¡Sí, se puede! / Where there’s a will, there’s a way!”), Canta seeks help from Fernanda at the repair shop. Soon, the guitar is whole again. Now all that’s left is learning to play it. Excited for lessons with Señora Clemente, Canta runs down the street, but another friend offers help before her class. Lupita gives the guitar a candy paint gleam so the guitar will be a real dream! Now Canta is finally ready for school. Some kids try to make fun of Canta, but Señora Clemente tells her to “Tune those doubts out!” So Canta listens to her heart, her corazón, and loudly sings her song, her canción! With unitalicized Spanish and English intertwined, the rhymes are appropriately melodic, and the art is vibrant, full of warm tones and round-faced characters full of expression. It’s a combination that works: a heartfelt story of a neighborhood coming together to help a little girl’s dream come true and engaging illustrations that deliver. Most characters present Latine, with skin in varying shades of brown; Señora Clemente is cued as Afro-Latine. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An inspiring story of perseverance. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9780063254152

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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


Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

Close Quickview