MILTON & ODIE AND THE BIGGER-THAN-BIGMOUTH BASS

Sunnily earnest.

Polar-opposite otters find camaraderie in this read-aloud.

Grumpy Milton and exuberant Odie are two adorable anthropomorphic otters on parallel ice-fishing pursuits. Dressed in muted greens and grays, Milton finds negativity in the old boot he fishes out of the frozen lake, criticizes his bait, and is less than enthused about crossing paths with the cheery Odie when Milton’s line tugs Odie’s fishing pole out of the water. With an exuberant, red-and-yellow plaid coat and bright blue hat and mittens, Odie sees possibilities and positives as readily as Milton can find the downside in anything. From their meeting, they learn about teamwork and experience a sweet role reversal after some success. While the pair of otters represents a type of emotional binary, the gently repetitive events in the story could well start conversations about ranges of emotions. Warmth is established through images of happy fish swimming beneath Odie (those beneath Milton match his glum mien), Odie’s genuine smile, and emphasized onomatopoeia. Large, unfussy black type creatively shifts to fill negative space or snowy white landscapes. Combine this with Grumpy Pants (2016) by Claire Messer or Bernice Gets Carried Away (2015) by Hannah E. Harrison for a trio of reads that can offer some giggles while exploring emotions and friendship.

Sunnily earnest. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62354-098-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

As ephemeral as a valentine.

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

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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