1, 2, 3, OFF TO SCHOOL!

Imported from France, a whimsical peek at a new experience.

In anticipation of kindergarten next year, a curious child follows their animal neighbors to each of their schools for the day.

Pom, a White child with a pointy, red hat who lives in a tree, may not start kindergarten until next year, but their animal friends have told them all about their schools. With their schoolbag packed and a new pair of shoes, Pom sets off on an adventure to check out the schools for themself. Starting with the busy mice, Pom then visits rabbits, frogs, foxes, bears, sloths, squirrels, wolves, turtles, and hedgehogs. Every location introduces a new school-related activity, including bus rides, field trips, music, gym, lunch, napping, cleaning up, and after-school pickup. Apart from Pom, only three other nonanimal characters appear in the illustrations, including Momo (Pom’s caregiver), and all of them have pale pink skin like Pom’s. The narrative does not assign a binary gender to either Pom or Momo. The double-page illustrations, alive with tiny details and references to popular children’s stories, demand up-close exploration. Bits of dialogue scattered across the pages, although not essential to understanding the story, highlight student perspectives about daily routines. Despite the disappointing lack of racial diversity, Pom’s ease and inquisitive nature combine with the distance provided by the focus on animals at school to create a gentle preview of a big life change. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Imported from France, a whimsical peek at a new experience. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0656-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

PERFECTLY NORMAN

From the Big Bright Feelings series

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance.

A boy with wings learns to be himself and inspires others like him to soar, too.

Norman, a “perfectly normal” boy, never dreamed he might grow wings. Afraid of what his parents might say, he hides his new wings under a big, stuffy coat. Although the coat hides his wings from the world, Norman no longer finds joy in bathtime, playing at the park, swimming, or birthday parties. With the gentle encouragement of his parents, who see his sadness, Norman finds the courage to come out of hiding and soar. Percival (The Magic Looking Glass, 2017, etc.) depicts Norman with light skin and dark hair. Black-and-white illustrations show his father with dark skin and hair and his mother as white. The contrast of black-and-white illustrations with splashes of bright color complements the story’s theme. While Norman tries to be “normal,” the world and people around him look black and gray, but his coat stands out in yellow. Birds pop from the page in pink, green, and blue, emphasizing the joy and beauty of flying free. The final spread, full of bright color and multiracial children in flight, sets the mood for Norman’s realization on the last page that there is “no such thing as perfectly normal,” but he can be “perfectly Norman.”

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-785-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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