A poignant look at a homeless woman and her family—a constellation too rarely seen.

Marta and Dan’s mom wants to help her transient sister, Pearl, who’s accustomed to couch surfing, hostels, and park benches.

“ ‘That’s not how it should be,’ said Mom. ‘Pearl will live with us.’ ” Pearl, whom the kids have never met, arrives with a loaded shopping cart. A man with a van brings more stuff. It fills the garage, the basement, and Pearl’s bedroom—conflicting with Mom’s penchant for tidiness. Dan reads the sentiments on Pearl’s hat buttons: “Normal people scare me.” Free-spirited Marta, age 6, accompanies Pearl on garbage-day scavenging, helping provide “a second chance” for castoff finds. Creative Pearl engages the diverse kids at Dan and Marta’s day camp in decorating a salvaged coffee table with bottle caps—a gift for Mom. But Pearl’s hoarding behavior and failed attempts to help domestically deepen the sisters’ discomfort. As summer turns, Pearl grows increasingly despondent, and one morning, she’s gone. Dan’s tearful: “Why’d she go?…She left her stuff.” But Marta “knew a mystery when she met one.” Luxbacher’s mixed-media illustrations supply visual clues: The buttons on Pearl’s left-behind hat are obscured with fabric scraps—a double-edged gift for Rose? On the table rest three fabric napkins—polka-dot, just like Pearl’s carry-bag. The ambiguity will have children and caregivers talking. Dan is dark-haired with light brown skin; the others present as white.

A poignant look at a homeless woman and her family—a constellation too rarely seen. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77306-153-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019


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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