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THE NOISE INSIDE BOYS

A STORY ABOUT BIG FEELINGS

This book on boys’ emotional lives will resonate with some but falls a little flat in its scope.

Amid the hubbub of boisterous play, can a young boy learn to listen to the “noise inside” him?

Three brothers spend an exuberant day at the beach, leaping, running, and playing soccer. When the ball careens into the red-shirted boy’s sand castle, the fun and games end abruptly. Overcome with emotion, the child storms off. Back at home, the narrative takes on the voice of the still-hurting protagonist’s sympathetic dad: “Take a beat. This moment won’t last. / Breathe in, breathe out. Let the noises pass.” Gentle rhymes speak to the wide range of feelings the child is capable of: happiness, loneliness, fear, anxiety, jealousy, anger, grief. The parent’s message is to “Listen to your emotions—learn how to name them. / Then you’ll know better how to name them.” Oswald’s watercolor, gouache, acrylic, and digital illustrations use engaging color and texture to highlight various emotions; the family members have light skin, short hair, and slim builds. While the emphasis on men encouraging boys to identify their feelings is important, the story doesn’t offer further strategies for how to process big feelings. In an increasing field of picture books on emotional literacy, other options deal more deftly with this subject. Backmatter includes a visual glossary of 20 emotions, depicted by humans of different skin tones, hair textures, and genders. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This book on boys’ emotional lives will resonate with some but falls a little flat in its scope. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9780593483220

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

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

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THE BIG CHEESE

From the Food Group series

From curds to riches, from meltdown to uplift—this multicourse romp delivers.

A winning wheel of cheddar with braggadocio to match narrates a tale of comeuppance and redemption.

From humble beginnings among kitchen curds living “quiet lives of pasteurization,” the Big Cheese longs to be the best and builds success and renown based on proven skills and dependable results: “I stuck to the things I was good at.” When newcomer Wedge moves to the village of Curds-on-Whey, the Cheese’s star status wobbles and falls. Turns out that quiet, modest Wedge is also multitalented. At the annual Cheese-cathlon, Wedge bests six-time winner Cheese in every event, from the footrace and chess to hat making and bread buttering. A disappointed Cheese throws a full-blown tantrum before arriving at a moment of truth: Self-calming, conscious breathing permits deep relief that losing—even badly—does not result in disaster. A debrief with Wedge “that wasn’t all about me” leads to further realizations: Losing builds empathy for others; obsession with winning obscures “the joy of participating.” The chastened cheddar learns to reserve bragging for lifting up friends, because anyone can be the Big Cheese. More didactic and less pun-rich than previous entries in the Food Group series, this outing nevertheless couples a cheerful refrain with pithy life lessons that hit home. Oswald’s detailed, comical illustrations continue to provide laughs, including a spot with Cheese onstage doing a “CHED” talk.

From curds to riches, from meltdown to uplift—this multicourse romp delivers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780063329508

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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