An affirming celebration of individuality and cultural appreciation.

THE ME I CHOOSE TO BE

Envision a world where children are dreamers and explorers of themselves, and you have this book.

Tarpley’s latest picture book is a thoughtfully written poem penned to affirm Black children. She gives Black children permission to investigate their inner and outer landscapes and supports their choices in determining how they show up in the world. Tarpley’s text declares: “I am hope”; “I am a tiny bird”; “I am light.” These words and phrases are powerful analogies and metaphors for strength, resiliency, and freedom. Other metaphors invite children to see themselves as a “free spirit” who moves “to the rhythm of my own heartbeat” and a “gardener” who plants “dreams the world will know.” The photo-collage illustrations are full of color and movement, each one with a beautiful Black child front and center. Many of the images are out of this world—sometimes literally—and styled to represent the ideas from the stanzas they accompany. One child is a “yet unnamed” superhero surrounded by flames; another is a star dancing across the night sky; and two children who represent sadness wear golden tears frozen on their small brown cheeks. The images are a blend of the realistic and the fantastic, with hints of Afro-futurism. Moreover, the ideas are not presented as static states of being: The children are free to move fluidly from one idea to the next, as evidenced in the refrain: “My creativity and curiosity / flow without end, / and if I meet an obstacle, / I just begin again.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An affirming celebration of individuality and cultural appreciation. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-46154-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

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 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient.

BUDDY'S NEW BUDDY

From the Growing With Buddy series , Vol. 3

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 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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