TEACHER APPRECIATION DAY

It’s all a matter of proportion, suggests Plourde, and Maybella Jean Wishywashy just hasn’t got any. It’s teacher appreciation day at school and every student knows what they are going to do for their teacher, Mrs. Shepherd, whom readers first met in School Picture Day (2002). They will give her apples and wear clothes of her favorite color and scrub her blackboard squeaky clean. Maybella can’t decide what to do, so she figures everything is better than nothing: A shopping cart full of goodies, all of her clothes rather than an outfit, polishing the whole classroom instead of just the board. “Well, that was very . . . thoughtful of you,” Mrs. Shepherd halting responds, “Er, that was very . . . generous of you.” It’s only when the local TV station appears that Maybella shines. When all the other students get tongue-tied, Maybella positively barks she likes “everything” about Mrs. Shepherd. Exuberance and independent thinking don’t get much of a salute here (“everybody knows apples are the official teacher treat”)—Maybella’s not portrayed as a winning sprite, but as too much—especially considering the tepid, vaguely sniffy replies she gets from Mrs. Shepherd. On the other hand, Wickstrom’s artwork is full of life and floats this dour boat beyond expectations. Teachers will appreciate it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-525-47113-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2003

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.

JABARI JUMPS

Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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