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

EUNICE AND KATE

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. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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

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A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning.

THE MAGICAL YET

Children realize their dreams one step at a time in this story about growth mindset.

A child crashes and damages a new bicycle on a dark, rainy day. Attempting a wheelie, the novice cyclist falls onto the sidewalk, grimacing, and, having internalized this setback as failure, vows to never ride again but to “walk…forever.” Then the unnamed protagonist happens upon a glowing orb in the forest, a “thought rearranger-er”—a luminous pink fairy called the Magical Yet. This Yet reminds the child of past accomplishments and encourages perseverance. The second-person rhyming couplets remind readers that mistakes are part of learning and that with patience and effort, children can achieve. Readers see the protagonist learn to ride the bike before a flash-forward shows the child as a capable college graduate confidently designing a sleek new bike. This book shines with diversity: racial, ethnic, ability, and gender. The gender-indeterminate protagonist has light brown skin and exuberant curly locks; Amid the bustling secondary cast, one child uses a prosthesis, and another wears hijab. At no point in the text is the Yet defined as a metaphor for a growth mindset; adults reading with younger children will likely need to clarify this abstract lesson. The artwork is powerful and detailed—pay special attention to the endpapers that progress to show the Yet at work.

A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02562-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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