Tenderly encouraging, with a message of hope and resilience.

Courage takes on many forms.

A nameless protagonist with straight brown hair and light tan skin describes the many impressive things their mom does. The mother, who has short dark brown hair and tan skin, can lift the narrator up with “rocket-booster arms” so the child “can soar through the sky,” and she “opens the applesauce jar without making a funny face.” But the mother is also sick: “sicker than bubblegum medicine can fix. She tries different treatments now, hoping one day they will make her feel better.” As the story proceeds, the mother catches scary spiders in jars and wrangles a largemouth bass, but she also spends time in the hospital and “battles fatigue, aches, and pains before her feet hit the floor each day.” As a result, the protagonist sometimes feels scared and even cries. Thankfully, their supportive mom reminds them that “being strong doesn’t mean you can’t cry,” and “being brave doesn’t mean you’re never scared.” It’s an important lesson, one supported by colorful and engaging illustrations that capture the good moments and the not-so-good ones. In an author’s note, Acker mentions that the mother character was based on her sister-in-law, who died of cancer in 2020, but the story never specifies the illness, making for a tale that will bolster many children with sick parents and caregivers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Tenderly encouraging, with a message of hope and resilience. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5064-8320-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beaming Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022


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


Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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