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This book sings.

Hamilton star Soo’s debut picture book centers on a young girl confronting stage fright.

Piper Chen twirls through her days with her mouth wide open. When Mr. Harris, her music teacher, asks Piper if she’d like to sing a solo in the Spring Sing, she immediately answers, “Yes!” But later, she finds herself frozen during practice. Later, Piper’s grandmother Nǎi Nai notices that Piper isn’t singing, and Piper explains about the solo and the butterflies in her stomach. Nǎi Nai understands and explains that she experienced “húdié” (Chinese for butterflies) at her first piano recital. They also visited whenever something exciting was ahead, like when she left China for America, when she graduated from music school, and when she became a U.S. citizen. “Now, when they greet me, I greet them back. ‘Hello, húdié. Nǐ hǎo.’” The night of the show, Piper feels the butterflies flapping their wings. She hums to herself, “Hello, húdié” and sings. Soo and Pasquale Doran sensitively capture the anxiety of performing and draw parallels with other life changes while giving readers a concrete tool for addressing those butterflies. Leng’s delicate, expressive ink, watercolor, and oil pastel illustrations capture Piper’s enthusiasm and uncertainty as well as Nǎi Nai’s loving warmth, working seamlessly with the text in vignettes and full spreads. Piper Chen and Nǎi Nai are Chinese American; Mr. Harris is brown-skinned.

This book sings. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780593564691

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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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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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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