THE DANCING TREES

In this cautionary tale, the trees teach an Indigenous kid a lesson about respecting nature.

Thomas doesn’t listen to his sister when she tells him to pick up his garbage. She reminds him of Grandma’s teachings, but Thomas is too busy telling his friends stories, wherein he plays a starring role as a skilled hunter and provider for his large family. His friends are tired of hearing his tales, and they challenge him to prove his skill by spending a night alone in the woods. Foolishly, Thomas accepts the challenge. He marks trees with string as he walks into the forest with just a backpack and sleeping bag, but he also strips the bark off of trees in boredom and leaves wrappers from his food on the ground. He manages to build a decent lean-to and falls asleep. But the trees, having seen his disrespectful conduct, uproot themselves and dance to new places, changing his markings so he can’t find his way. Thomas wakes up in the rain and gets lost. Having run out of food, Thomas is grateful to forage some cranberries and thanks the forest for the provisions. Seeing his mess, he cleans up before sleeping with fitful dreams of how disappointed his grandmother would be. The trees, satisfied with his changes, dance again to allow him to find his way home. While Simpson’s cartoon illustrations don’t quite match the traditional tone of Inuk/Dene author Kelly’s story, the fable accomplishes its educative goal while entertaining readers with memorable characters and suspense. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Uniquely successful. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77227-369-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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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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Sweet, good-hearted fun.

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THE SOUR GRAPE

From the Food Group series

A recovering curmudgeon narrates life lessons in the latest entry in the punny Food Group series.

Grape wasn’t always sour, as they explain in this origin story. Grape’s arc starts with an idyllic childhood within “a close-knit bunch” in a community of “about three thousand.” The sweet-to-sour switch begins when Grape plans an elaborate birthday party to which no one shows up. Going from “sweet” to “bitter,” “snappy,” and, finally, “sour,” Grape “scowled so much that my face got all squishy.” Minor grudges become major. An aha moment occurs when a run of bad luck makes Grape three hours late for a meetup with best friend Lenny, who’s just as acidic as Grape. After the irate lemon storms off, Grape recognizes their own behavior in Lenny. Alone, Grape begins to enjoy the charms of a lovely evening. Once home, the fruit browses through a box of memorabilia, discovering that the old birthday party invitation provided the wrong date! “I realized nobody’s perfect. Not even me.” Remaining pages reverse the downturn as Grape observes that minor setbacks are easily weathered when the emphasis is on talking, listening, and working things out. Oswald’s signature illustrations depict Grape and company with big eyes and tiny limbs. The best sight gag occurs early: Grape’s grandparents are depicted as elegant raisins. The lessons are as valuable as in previous outings, and kids won’t mind the slight preachiness. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, good-hearted fun. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-304541-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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