Not exactly groundbreaking, but still a sweet and timeless lesson.

WHAT IS LOVE?

A boy leaves home to find the answer to the age-old question, “What is love?”

In this homey parable told in first person, an unnamed narrator asks his grandmother what love is, but instead of answering, she encourages him to go out into the world to find the answer. What follows is an episodic meeting of characters incorporating a bracketed refrain. “What is love?” the boy asks each character he meets. Each one then likens love to something that is meaningful to their life: The fisherman believes that love is a fish, the actor insists that love is applause, the carpenter thinks it is a house, and so on. However, the literal-minded boy is unconvinced by each character’s arguments. Fish are slimy and taste bad, applause is ephemeral, and hammers are dangerous. The encounters all end the same way: “You do not understand,” each character sighs. It is not until he returns as a grown man back home to his grandmother that he finally does. Static watercolor illustrations accompany the tale, giving the impression of a collection of still lifes rather than an immersive journey. And while the simplicity works well with the folk feeling and dry humor of the storytelling, it may not be the most engaging for young readers. The lesson, however, is eternal. Both boy and grandmother have beige skin, the boy’s hair black and the grandmother’s gray; other characters met are racially diverse.

Not exactly groundbreaking, but still a sweet and timeless lesson. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7640-6

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

more