This little book could make a big difference.

THE LITTLE LIBRARY

From the Mr. Tiffin's Classroom series

A school librarian helps their student succeed as a reader and grow as a community member.

While there are many picture books about libraries, librarians, books, and reading, this fifth installment in McNamara and Karas’ series about Mr. Tiffin’s class is a standout. Not only does Librarian Beck offer Jake compassionate encouragement through careful reader’s advisory and reassuring comments about his reading preferences, they also present as nonbinary with they/them pronouns and clothing and hairstyling that resist strict gender norms. The matter-of-fact inclusion of this character is groundbreaking, especially since Librarian Beck’s gender is not a focus of the story. Instead, Jake’s early resistance to reading and then his immersion in Woodworking for Young Hands define the earlier parts of the plot. Jake renews this favorite book many times and is saddened to learn the school library will be closed at the end of the school year. The story culminates with him working with his grandfather to build a Little Free Library for Librarian Beck, who installs it outside the school for students to enjoy. A closing moment may warm hearts (though it risks undermining core principles of librarianship) when Jake receives a package from Librarian Beck with Woodworking for Young Hands inside, its title page stamped with the word WITHDRAWN. All main characters present as White. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 37% of actual size.)

This little book could make a big difference. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-57833-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Sweet, good-hearted fun.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE SOUR GRAPE

From the Food Group series

A recovering curmudgeon narrates life lessons in the latest entry in the punny Food Group series.

Grape wasn’t always sour, as they explain in this origin story. Grape’s arc starts with an idyllic childhood within “a close-knit bunch” in a community of “about three thousand.” The sweet-to-sour switch begins when Grape plans an elaborate birthday party to which no one shows up. Going from “sweet” to “bitter,” “snappy,” and, finally, “sour,” Grape “scowled so much that my face got all squishy.” Minor grudges become major. An aha moment occurs when a run of bad luck makes Grape three hours late for a meetup with best friend Lenny, who’s just as acidic as Grape. After the irate lemon storms off, Grape recognizes their own behavior in Lenny. Alone, Grape begins to enjoy the charms of a lovely evening. Once home, the fruit browses through a box of memorabilia, discovering that the old birthday party invitation provided the wrong date! “I realized nobody’s perfect. Not even me.” Remaining pages reverse the downturn as Grape observes that minor setbacks are easily weathered when the emphasis is on talking, listening, and working things out. Oswald’s signature illustrations depict Grape and company with big eyes and tiny limbs. The best sight gag occurs early: Grape’s grandparents are depicted as elegant raisins. The lessons are as valuable as in previous outings, and kids won’t mind the slight preachiness. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, good-hearted fun. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-304541-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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
more