A picture book that wants to be a graphic novel, and a message worthy of both.

SMALL THINGS

A young child deals with isolation and the escalation of worry in Tregonning’s posthumous wordless picture book.

Anxiety is more than a feeling in this visual narrative, more than the pressure of school tests, the loneliness of exclusion by classmates, or the fear of such shortcomings being discovered at home. Anxiety, represented here by ominously sharp swirls of black ink, has a visceral, visual gravitas—it grows to fill literal and figurative space as the young protagonist’s outlook progresses steadily downhill. Shouldering worry and shame while trying to hide both unsurprisingly takes its toll, and employing a touch of body horror, the barbs of worry that plague the protagonist begin actually to tear away at arms, legs, back, and head until the cracks can no longer be hidden. The poignant effects of an entirely black-and-white palette and masterful shifts in perspective are muddled by a dizzying layout of (sometimes-excessive) individual panels. Younger readers who gravitate toward wordless picture books or those with low contrast sensitivity may find it difficult to keep pace. Nonetheless, the refreshing visibility and validity of childhood pressures accompanied by the equally important realization that no one is alone in their experience of such strain balances the slight risk that readers might lose track of the narrative. The tousle-headed protagonist is depicted with pale skin and attends a fairly diverse school.

A picture book that wants to be a graphic novel, and a message worthy of both. (Picture book. 6-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77278-042-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more