A cautionary tale about listening closely in order to discover the world’s pleasures.

The world is full of wonders—but you have to be really quiet to appreciate them.

Mary is very quiet. She hears things no one else can: a buzzing dragonfly, a sleeping dog, a creaking tree. When she speaks, her parents and brother don’t hear her, though they’re usually too busy with activities or plugged-in devices anyway. Even when Mary raises her voice, she has trouble being heard. So she becomes even quieter. Suddenly, an enriched world opens to her senses: Mary sees, smells, and feels phenomena she never experienced before. Mary’s family, still engrossed in pastimes and electronics, barely see her; Mary herself feels she doesn’t exist. She goes unnoticed for a while, but soon the family realizes Mary’s “disappeared” and search everywhere. Eventually, the family falls silent, too; for the first time, they listen and hear. Only then do they realize that Mary’s among them—and permanently adopt her new method for engaging with the world. This gentle Australian import exhorts readers to listen, pay attention, and, sometimes, unplug, but some children may be unsettled by the notion that if they tend toward quietude, they may go unheeded in their families. The delicate, sweet line illustrations present brown-haired Mary and her family with beige skin and also depict creative ideas for recycling plastic bottles. A spread with simple mindfulness tips concludes the book.

A cautionary tale about listening closely in order to discover the world’s pleasures. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77278-122-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020


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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