Using bright colors and brilliant prints, Freeman encourages young readers to be themselves. (Picture book. 3-6)

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PRINCESS ARABELLA GOES TO SCHOOL

From the Princess Arabella series

Princess Arabella learns that standing out is not necessarily a bad thing and that she can both stay true to herself and succeed as she starts her first day of school.

The young princess is excited to start school. She packs her golden pens and pencil sharpener, her books, and her “royal lunchbox” and is all set to have a marvelous day at her new school. But she doesn’t hear her parents encourage her to be good and to listen to her teacher, instead running pell-mell to school. When the beautiful princess, who has dark brown skin and round, black plaits, gets to her new classroom, she finds a diverse group of princesses practicing deportment and etiquette. Instead of balancing books on her head to “Walk with Grace,” Princess Arabella prefers to read the books. Rather than cutting ribbons, Princess Arabella prefers to cut paper-animal chains. In math class, Princess Arabella finds the problem (adding crowns) “silly” and laments, “I don’t like school anymore!” Happily, when the royal teacher (a black woman in a tweed suit) asks the princesses to bring their favorite animals to school, Princess Arabella is excited to come back and show off hers. Princess Arabella’s ebullience in this Belgian import is contagious, and readers will be delighted to learn that Princess Arabella and the Giant Cake will be out in the fall.

Using bright colors and brilliant prints, Freeman encourages young readers to be themselves. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-911115-65-6

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Cassava Republic Press

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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