Despite its uplifting message, this effort doesn’t quite get off the ground.

THE KITE OF DREAMS

Children all over the world play with real and imaginary kites, buoying their hope and resilience.

In a series of international vignettes, López Ávila and Merlán describe the titular Kite of Dreams—a metaphorical toy that “gather[s] the hopes and dreams of children” and helps them “dream of a better world.” Full-bleed watercolor-and-pencil illustrations offer glimpses from the lives of 15 kids in places such as Bolivia, Haiti, Ukraine, and the Philippines. Each child has their own wishes, and each uses literal or make-believe kites to weather challenging circumstances. In one scene, a Mexican girl named Lis “finds a piece of cloth” that triggers a “daydream of flowers, butterflies, and forests.” Using her sewing skills, she crafts a kite for herself and her brother, who then “play, without being bothered by the shadow of violence.” In an unnamed Chinese village, as Xia makes the treacherous journey to school, she “pretends a kite is carrying her up into the air” to distract her from the scary parts of the trek. The Kite of Dreams represents children’s capacity for “hope,” “love,” and “joy,” no matter what hardships they face; unfortunately, the overworked symbolism makes for a somewhat threadbare arc. Though the author writes most of the vignettes as open-ended slices of life that avoid feel-good conclusions, the book’s ending may strike readers as disappointingly sentimental.

Despite its uplifting message, this effort doesn’t quite get off the ground. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-84-16733-68-2

Page Count: 27

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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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