Insensitive and unwelcoming.

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PRINCESS KEVIN

A determined boy wears a princess costume to his school’s fancy dress show.

Despite what others think and in defiance of their laughter, Kevin, a little white boy, refuses to dress as a knight, cowboy, or superhero for his school’s costume event. Kevin is a princess. If girls can wear any costume they want, after all, then so can he. Proud of his outfit, Kevin seeks one final addition to “complete the look”: a knight to hold his hand. Bright, hand-drawn pen-and-ink illustrations accompany the narration. Kevin and Chloe (the other character named in the text) appear white, but their class includes students with light and dark brown skin. While the narration suggests that Kevin has support from his family, he faces rejection from his classmates without intervention. Apart from brief mentions of Kevin’s mother’s lipstick and Chloe’s father, adults play no role in the story. None of the students in class stand up for Kevin either. Even Chloe’s giggling remark that “You’ve got a lot to learn before you can be a real princess” as she helps him undress keeps Kevin from self-expression. Furthermore, Escoffier places strict judgment in the text that “the whole point” of wearing a costume “is that you become someone totally different. Otherwise it makes no sense to dress up in the first place,” leaving no room for personal exploration.

Insensitive and unwelcoming. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-5435-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached.

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    Best Books Of 2012

  • Caldecott Honor Book

EXTRA YARN

A little girl in a town of white snow and soot-blackened chimneys opens a small box and discovers a never-ending gift of colorful yarn.

Annabelle knits herself a sweater, and with the leftover yarn, she knits one for her dog, and with the yarn left over from that, she knits one for a neighbor and for her classmates and for her teacher and for her family and for the birdhouse and for the buildings in town. All and everything are warm, cozy and colorful until a clotheshorse of an archduke arrives. Annabelle refuses his monetary offers, whereupon the box is stolen. The greedy archduke gets his just deserts when he opens the box to find it empty. It wends its way back to Annabelle, who ends up happily sitting in a knit-covered tree. Klassen, who worked on the film Coraline, uses inks, gouache and colorized scans of a sweater to create a stylized, linear design of dark geometric shapes against a white background. The stitches of the sweaters add a subdued rainbow. Barnett entertained middle-grade readers with his Brixton Brothers detective series. Here, he maintains a folkloric narrative that results in a traditional story arc complete with repetition, drama and a satisfying conclusion.

A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-195338-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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