Ultimately insubstantial, though its heart’s in the right place.

BATHING IN THE FOREST

Readers who are “feeling gray” are encouraged to come into the forest.

A rose-cheeked child in green, leaf-patterned clothes and bare feet calls herself “the little girl of the forest,” welcoming those who enter her domain. In succession, a man, woman, and boy walk through the forest, all troubled in their own ways. The girl invites each one “to bathe in the forest,” and each finds relief in the embrace of nature. It’s unclear exactly what a forest “bath” entails until the end of the narrative, when the little girl encourages readers to relax and open their senses to the natural healing experience found in wooded areas. Whether the girl is a forest sprite or human is unclear, though her efforts to share her passion for natural spaces are equally valid with either interpretation. Uyá paints a fanciful atmosphere with organic shapes and selective background details. The visitors, all family members, are rendered all in gray shades until they accept the young girl’s invitation, then they burst into color. (Their surnames differ slightly: either Grayshadow or Greystone; this inconsistency will plague some young listeners.) The art’s various green hues and pops of color must compete with the stark white backgrounds, which do overpower at times. Appended is a link to a downloadable booklet with activities “to immerse yourself in nature,” such as doing texture rubbings or following a wandering insect.

Ultimately insubstantial, though its heart’s in the right place. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-84-16733-58-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning.

THE MAGICAL YET

Children realize their dreams one step at a time in this story about growth mindset.

A child crashes and damages a new bicycle on a dark, rainy day. Attempting a wheelie, the novice cyclist falls onto the sidewalk, grimacing, and, having internalized this setback as failure, vows to never ride again but to “walk…forever.” Then the unnamed protagonist happens upon a glowing orb in the forest, a “thought rearranger-er”—a luminous pink fairy called the Magical Yet. This Yet reminds the child of past accomplishments and encourages perseverance. The second-person rhyming couplets remind readers that mistakes are part of learning and that with patience and effort, children can achieve. Readers see the protagonist learn to ride the bike before a flash-forward shows the child as a capable college graduate confidently designing a sleek new bike. This book shines with diversity: racial, ethnic, ability, and gender. The gender-indeterminate protagonist has light brown skin and exuberant curly locks; Amid the bustling secondary cast, one child uses a prosthesis, and another wears hijab. At no point in the text is the Yet defined as a metaphor for a growth mindset; adults reading with younger children will likely need to clarify this abstract lesson. The artwork is powerful and detailed—pay special attention to the endpapers that progress to show the Yet at work.

A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02562-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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