Great amusement for the bold and timid alike.

BEN RIDES ON

Young readers and listeners will feel like cheering when this unprepossessing hero gets his due.

Davies’ signature caricature art lends itself perfectly to an exaggerated visual accompaniment for this earnest, simple and sweet tale of a boy, his bike and a bully. Ben’s great new bike takes him by any route he likes to school, including the long one over hill and dale, hopping across a stream on the heads of what look like sharks, leaping a line of school buses. But, alas, arrival at school only means that Adrian Underbite (“perhaps the world’s largest third-grader”) makes off with Ben’s bike. When Ben later finds Adrian in “a significant spot of trouble,” both readers and Ben may find that doing the right thing is not the first thought that comes to mind. “How extraordinarily terrible,” Ben muses sardonically. There are a few tense moments in the brief narrative when it seems that no good deed will go unpunished, but a familiar story emerges—spoiler here: A bully has a change of heart—and it becomes astonishingly fresh and fun in Davies’ hands. Davies’ cheeky, cheerfully frayed line gives readers figures somewhat larger than life—and indeed twice as natural. Ben’s hasty, heroic hoodie rescue is dramatic and funny, and the last line and accompanying illustration will provoke out-loud laughter.

Great amusement for the bold and timid alike. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 28, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59643-794-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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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 tender tribute to the power of family in bolstering children making their way in an often unkind world.

A DOOR MADE FOR ME

Some childhood encounters take a lifetime to get over.

As Tyler, a young Black boy, rides to his grandparents’ house, his folded arms and anxious expression suggest that he does not want to go. A whole summer with his grandparents—who will he play with? But Tyler quickly becomes friends with Jack, a White boy about his age. The boys enjoy fishing in the river together, and Jack teaches Ty how to dig for nightcrawlers. One day, they catch three buckets of fish, and Jack decides to show all his friends. But when the boys knock on a door, a White father refuses to let his child come out—a pattern that repeats several times. Baffled, Tyler finally realizes the reason when one parent says, “You can come in, Jack…but not that little Black boy. He needs to stay outside.” Jack enters, leaving Tyler on the other side of the locked door, which changes everything for Tyler. At home, Tyler’s grandfather offers no easy answers, but he has words of encouragement that make all the difference. In an author’s note, Merritt explains that this story is based on his own childhood experience—which “left a mark on my heart that I would carry for many years.” Ollivierre’s illustrations, with deeply saturated colors, effectively capture Tyler’s sadness and befuddlement as he encounters racism from the White adults but also the joy and love that abound as the family bonds over a backyard fried fish dinner. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A tender tribute to the power of family in bolstering children making their way in an often unkind world. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5460-1256-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: WorthyKids/Ideals

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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