A superb, beautifully moving collaboration of text and illustration.

The story of a young refugee’s flight from home is told through a series of wishes made by inanimate objects.

“The night wished it was quieter,” reads the first of 12 wishes that tell the story of a family’s journey across the sea to a better life. A somber palette and perfectly chosen scenes illustrate each object’s wish, giving shape to the story that unfolds. The bag that family members pack with rice packets “wished it was deeper.” The clock, at departure time, “wished it was slower,” as an older man embraces two children with tears in his eyes. The winding, ominous path on which the oldest child and mother walk (she carries both an infant in a sling and her middle child on her back) “wished it was shorter.” And the boat that they board, packed to the edges with passengers, “wished it was bigger.” Each simple statement, accompanied by its heart-rending visual element, takes readers along on this harrowing journey. When the final wish arrives (the only to employ the first person), the one sentence spans four double-page spreads of visual storytelling that evoke the joy and release of so many heightened emotions. Details in every illustration convey an Asian setting, though readers in the know will recognize distinctly Vietnamese particulars. Backmatter explains how the author’s own family escaped from Vietnam in the 1980s.

A superb, beautifully moving collaboration of text and illustration. (author's note, artist's note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-30589-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021


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


From the Growing With Buddy series , Vol. 3

Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient.

How do you make a new friend when an old one moves away?

Buddy (from Sorry, Grown-Ups, You Can’t Go to School, 2019, etc.) is feeling lonely. His best friend just moved across town. To make matters worse, there is a field trip coming up, and Buddy needs a bus partner. His sister, Lady, has some helpful advice for making a new pal: “You just need to find something you have in common.” Buddy loves the game Robo Chargers and karate. Surely there is someone else who does, too! Unfortunately, there isn’t. However, when a new student arrives (one day later) and asks everyone to call her Sunny instead of Alison, Buddy gets excited. No one uses his given name, either; they just call him Buddy. He secretly whispers his “real, official name” to Sunny at lunch—an indication that a true friendship is being formed. The rest of the story plods merrily along, all pieces falling exactly into place (she even likes Robo Chargers!), accompanied by Bowers’ digital art, a mix of spot art and full-bleed illustrations. Friendship-building can be an emotionally charged event in a child’s life—young readers will certainly see themselves in Buddy’s plight—but, alas, there is not much storytelling magic to be found. Buddy and his family are White, Sunny and Mr. Teacher are Black, and Buddy’s other classmates are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-30709-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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