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EUNICE AND KATE

Despite some structural weaknesses, a thoughtful treatment of what it means to be a friend.

Eunice and Kate are always together, but each must learn to appreciate the other for who she truly is.

Eunice and Kate live in “side-by-side apartments,” where their mothers do laundry in the same basement and chat while Eunice and Kate share their dreams. Eunice dreams of being a ballerina; Kate dreams of being an astronaut. Both girls’ loving moms work to make ends meet. One day at school, when it’s time to draw a portrait of each other, “they opened their eyes and observed.” Readers might think Eunice and Kate are going to notice their physical differences—Eunice is white with brown hair, and Kate is black with tall, puffy hair. But it’s their friend’s dreams that they question. Eunice draws Kate as a ballerina, and Kate draws Eunice as an astronaut. When they exchange drawings, each says, “That’s not me.” That night, after their mothers recognize some accuracy in the portraits, each girl decides to make a new drawing, featuring both of them combining their dreams. The text alternates between the girls at each page turn, which mostly works but sometimes feels a bit forced, as do the pages about their mothers; the structure is not quite enough to give the story a cohesive feel. The cartoon illustrations dramatize thoughts and feelings with expressive faces, close-ups, and a range of layouts.

Despite some structural weaknesses, a thoughtful treatment of what it means to be a friend. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9996584-7-5

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Penny Candy

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

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 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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CLAYMATES

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

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 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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