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ELBERT IN THE AIR

A transcendent journey for families seeking affirming representations of those who march to their own beats.

In this allegory celebrating individuality, Elbert finds true acceptance, aided by his loving mother.

After birth, Elbert begins to float, literally rising as he grows. His mother clambers ever higher to provide unconditional support: “If Elbert was born to float, I will let him.” Cavorting in the air, first among his toys and then above his yard, Elbert discovers despondency at 6: “Even on my birthday…no one else is up here.” At school, he deftly catches “the highest balls” and finds creative ways to play tag with his classmates at recess. Ma continues to reassure as Elbert’s increasing altitude literally puts classmates out of reach. “Just be yourself…and you’ll find friends.” She encourages him to make wishes—on birthday candles, on a shooting star—which symbolize the family’s commitment to Elbert’s existential quest. Wesolowska employs the Euro-folkloric motif of threes: At three stages in Elbert’s coming-of-age odyssey, a trio of naysayers offer feckless, often chilling advice designed to hobble him. But “Elbert was Elbert. No hook, no anchor, no law could bring him down!” Finally, Elbert finds “the world he’d always wished for!” Textured, gracefully composed digital art depicts Ma and Elbert enjoying a sky-high picnic among a group of the boy’s happily engaged peers; images that evoke Elbert’s toy blocks surround them. Both Elbert and his mother have brown skin and black textured hair, among diverse communities aloft and below. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A transcendent journey for families seeking affirming representations of those who march to their own beats. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-32520-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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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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WILLOW THE WHITE HOUSE CAT

Kids will enjoy the opportunity to “mews” on the doings of a presidential pet.

First Lady Biden and Capucilli, author of the Biscuit series, explain how Willow the cat came to reside at the White House.

Willow lives contentedly in a barn. One day, she’s curious when cars approach and people gather to hear a blond woman speak. Willow draws closer, then is delighted as the woman lifts her up and hugs her. That evening, light-skinned Farmer Rick tells Willow she made “quite an impression”: The visitor has invited Willow to live with her. A car arrives to drive Willow away to the White House, her new home in Washington, D.C. There, she’s welcomed by the first lady—the same woman who tenderly held her at the farm. Willow meets the president and explores her new home, filled with elegantly furnished rooms, grand staircases, and historic portraits. Plus, there’s a toy-filled basket! Best of all, there are wonderful people who work in and visit this beautiful house who show Willow kindness and affection. Willow’s favorite resting spot is at the president’s side in the Oval Office, though she also enjoys watching the first lady read to children on the lawn. Animal lovers will especially appreciate this sweet, cat’s-eye view of the White House, which helps humanize the first family by depicting them as ordinary feline fanciers. The loose ink, acrylic, and paint illustrations are cheerful and cozy. Background characters are racially diverse.

Kids will enjoy the opportunity to “mews” on the doings of a presidential pet. (author’s note from Biden, photos) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 4, 2024

ISBN: 9781665952057

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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