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EVERYTHING IS AWKWARD

(Mostly) totally awkward fun.

The team behind Awkward Family Photos (2010) unveils a playfully cringeworthy collection of kid-centered photos submitted to their website, celebrating the idea that “everything and everyone is awkward.”

The opening text orients readers to the creators’ construction of the word awkward: “It’s kind of a silly word. But all it really means is that everything isn’t always perfect.” Ensuing double-page spreads juxtapose sedate, run-of-the-mill photos on the verso with, well, awkward corresponding images on the recto. Readers may laugh at the candid shots (or may worry a bit), many of which could be stills from an America’s Funniest Home Videos episode. Take, for example, pages that show how even sleeping can be awkward: an Asian child sleeps serenely on a bed made up with flowered sheets on the verso, while a white child with blond ringlets sits in a decidedly awkward pose on the floor, leaning face-first against table legs on the recto. As for "everyone"? A verso image of an interracial Asian and white couple with their biracial kids is a sweet family portrait; meanwhile, on the recto, a photo of a black family shows “AWKWARD” parents smooching their adorable—and thoroughly aghast—baby on either cheek. The closing text assures readers that life is made interesting by its awkward moments as it encourages individuality and playfulness.

(Mostly) totally awkward fun. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-54984-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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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CLAYMATES

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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