With whimsical paintings, some racial diversity, and a cat and mouse playfully adding to the visual fun, this retelling is...

THE ELVES AND THE SHOEMAKER

From the My First Fairy Tales series

The Grimm tale is updated with pastel shades and a terpsichorean spin.

Stan and Jan, white husband-and-wife shoemakers, share their passion for dancing with their village neighbors, until winter comes, keeping customers away. When they are desperate, a fanciful pair of shoes suddenly appears one morning, multicolored and gleaming with stars. Immediately, a tall, white customer, Mr. Morris, complete with jaunty top hat, striped pants, long purple overcoat, and polka-dot umbrella, arrives to buy the shoes. The next day, the couple finds “three new pairs of shoes even more magnificent than the last pair!” (This series uses emphasis, exclamation marks, and variously sized type to excess.) Mr. Mack, a round, jolly, brown-skinned man, buys all three, and he and his horse ride away sporting their new shoes. Marvelous styles appear every day, and customers keep coming. One night, Stan and Jan decide to wait for their saviors. At midnight, they spot the elves (two white and one black) wearing raggedy clothing (not naked as in the original). The couple makes new clothes and dancing shoes for the helpful elves using apple seeds, dandelion leaves, and daisy stems. The illustrations present a smiling multiracial community, realizing it in lavenders, pinks, and turquoises that make it a little hard to see the shoemakers’ short-lived distress.

With whimsical paintings, some racial diversity, and a cat and mouse playfully adding to the visual fun, this retelling is worth considering. (Picture book/fairy tale. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-84869-081-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses...

BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, STRONG LITTLE ME!

This tan-skinned, freckle-faced narrator extols her own virtues while describing the challenges of being of mixed race.

Protagonist Lilly appears on the cover, and her voluminous curly, twirly hair fills the image. Throughout the rhyming narrative, accompanied by cartoonish digital illustrations, Lilly brags on her dark skin (that isn’t very), “frizzy, wild” hair, eyebrows, intellect, and more. Her five friends present black, Asian, white (one blonde, one redheaded), and brown (this last uses a wheelchair). This array smacks of tokenism, since the protagonist focuses only on self-promotion, leaving no room for the friends’ character development. Lilly describes how hurtful racial microaggressions can be by recalling questions others ask her like “What are you?” She remains resilient and says that even though her skin and hair make her different, “the way that I look / Is not all I’m about.” But she spends so much time talking about her appearance that this may be hard for readers to believe. The rhyming verse that conveys her self-celebration is often clumsy and forced, resulting in a poorly written, plotless story for which the internal illustrations fall far short of the quality of the cover image.

Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses the mark on both counts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63233-170-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eifrig

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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THE LAST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Loewen’s story is a simple snapshot of kindergarten graduation day, and it stays true to form, with Yoshikawa’s artwork resembling photos that might be placed in an album—and the illustrations cheer, a mixed media of saturated color, remarkable depth and joyful expression. The author comfortably captures the hesitations of making the jump from kindergarten to first grade without making a fuss about it, and she makes the prospect something worth the effort. Trepidation aside, this is a reminder of how much fun kindergarten was: your own cubbyhole, the Halloween parade, losing a tooth, “the last time we’ll ever sit criss-cross applesauce together.” But there is also the fledgling’s pleasure at shucking off the past—swabbing the desks, tossing out the stubbiest crayons, taking the pictures off the wall—and surging into the future. Then there is graduation itself: donning the mortarboards, trooping into the auditorium—“Mr. Meyer starts playing a serious song on the piano. It makes me want to cry. It makes me want to march”—which will likely have a few adult readers feeling the same. (Picture book. 4-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5807-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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