Respect for children’s sadness and loss is exemplified beautifully in this tactful take on grief and its recovery.

Loss is loss, no matter how buoyant the friend.

When her parents come home one day with a gloriously gargantuan yellow balloon, their little girl knows instantly that she has found a friend. Over the next few days, she and Loonie (as she names the balloon) do almost everything together: go for walks, observe the squirrels, and dance. All is well until the girl invites her friend to see the garden but neglects to hold onto its string. Her grief is acknowledged and understood by her parents, who help her plant seeds in the ground. But slowly she sees other yellow things, like the flowers she planted, and is able to remember the good times the two had together. By the tale’s end, her happiness comes from that remembering—a well-conveyed message that will resonate with readers confronting similar situations. Lindsay’s bold, smudgy art makes clever use of color—yellow is a motif throughout, from the signifying brightness of Loonie to the little girl’s clothing and other objects in their vicinity. At the end, parents are warned of the dangers of uninflated balloons around small children and the perils they can pose to wildlife. The little girl’s parents present as female; all are light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Respect for children’s sadness and loss is exemplified beautifully in this tactful take on grief and its recovery. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 28, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1393-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022


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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