A trendy experiment in narrative, clumsily done and unlikely to gain much traction except as a curiosity.



Pfister swaps out words for signs—mostly big dots with happy, sad, or mad faces—in this tale of a trickster raven’s ups and downs.

Instead of words, emojis do the communication here. Walking along distractedly beneath a tiny storm cloud, Raven bashes into a tree (stars), poses with a bandaged beak (frowning pile of dung), then discovers (smirking devil) that sporting more bandages earns more sympathy (hearts and haloed, smiling dots) from other birds. That exploit ends when Raven, totally swathed, is first mistaken for litter and swept up with other trash (scowling faces). The bird then seeks a bit of redemption by bringing a distressed worm (cue a tiny version of the dung, now alarmed) to a cute baby bird (more smiles and hearts). The emojis, enlarged and redrawn with slightly more modeling than seen in standard versions, float singly or in clusters like balloons in the woodsy cartoon scenes. Though they work as broad signals of mood, their placement sometimes makes it unclear whether they’re supposed to apply to Raven or (the worm excepted) others. Also, the incandescent light bulb and devil’s face that appear when Raven first spots the baby bird plainly indicate some sort of trick in the offing, but Pfister leaves readers in the dark about what it might have been if the avian trickster hadn’t changed his mind on the next page. Some, not all, of the visual vocabulary is reproduced on two pages of large stickers at the end.

A trendy experiment in narrative, clumsily done and unlikely to gain much traction except as a curiosity. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-988-8341-23-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: minedition

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere.


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet