Stereotypes are oh-so-satisfyingly turned on their heads.


From the Égalité series

In this Italian import by way of Spain, when a witch’s potion goes wrong, she sets out to do some other witchy things only to have a child question her actions.

Humorous and quirky illustrations accompany this equally whimsical tale of a witch whose potion doesn’t work. “For the love of STINKING SKUNK FARTS!” Her hair is still blue. She would rather her hair were “BLOOD RED, OR ASH GREY, or perhaps BOOGER GREEN.” In a bad mood and wanting to prove she is “A REAL WITCH, a really BAD ONE” she sets out to snatch a child. Soon she spies a red-haired, white boy named Adam, who is playing with dolls. Assuming he’s a naughty brat playing with his sister’s dolls, Adam becomes her target. A circular conversation ensues whereby Adam’s persistent, repeated “BUT WHY?” turns the witch’s stated intentions back on her. As it turns out, Adam loves styling hair, and after styling the witch’s hair she declares it to be “the MOST INCREDIBLE SORCERY I’ve ever seen!” Adam helps the witch to see it is more important to “do THINGS YOU LIKE, just because you like them” than “witchy things to FEEL more like a witch.” This clever tale of upended expectations was winner of the Italian children’s literature prize Premio Narrare La Paritá (Narrating Equality Award) under its original title, Turchina la strega. An equally delightful Spanish edition, Cosas de bruja, translated by Raúl Zanabria and Luis Amavisca, publishes simultaneously.

Stereotypes are oh-so-satisfyingly turned on their heads. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-84-17673-60-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: NubeOcho

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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...


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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Fun to look at but overdone.


An imagination bureaucracy spreads magic.

Even before the title page, young readers are pulled into the fourth-wall–breaking world of this story. In a letter addressed to “Potential Special Agent, Human Division,” Agent Whim explains that this is a true story and that readers are invited to become “agents of imagination.” The narrative then follows a brown-skinned figment named Sparky (figments are “curious little creatures” working for the Bureau), who delivers mail around the agency along with Rascal the dreampuppy. Sparky is also a burgeoning writer of poetry but is too shy to share his doggerel with his community. Through meandering verbosity, the book finally comes to the point: The Cave of Untold Stories is exploding because humans have been hoarding their creativity. This finally forces Sparky to share his poems and is also meant to remind young artists that “ideas are not just meant for having and holding, but for sharing and living and doing.” It’s quite the heavy-handed message, and unfortunately Sparky’s own rhymes are weak. This would be exhausting to read aloud, but the delightful, detailed illustrations provide a lot of interesting moments for a small audience to pore over. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Fun to look at but overdone. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-32347-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

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