A well-crafted, engaging book about resilient childhoods in the face of displacement and conflict.

CHILD'S PLAY

Danny loves to make music, Molly loves to paint and draw, and Marcus loves to write.

The three siblings engage in their creative worlds individually and together, finding refuge from stressors around them and producing songs, stories, poems, and beautiful artwork. Color-rich, collage-infused illustrations (printed on environmentally friendly pages) portray their joyful play, in contrast with protests, conflict, and fighting in the background. The street and protest signs as well as the words on TV appear in the book’s original Spanish. The brown-skinned children continue to pursue their passions despite their parents’ urging that they stay quiet, and their teachers become concerned that they’re not paying attention in school and are isolating themselves. But the children’s play is a form of therapy or mechanism for survival, as they seem to be able to shut off the hostile noises of the world around them. When the siblings realize that they need to move to a new, safer house in another country, they become very sad. However, shortly thereafter they conclude that home is where the heart and family are. They then create a warm home in their new residence and continue to be who they are—joyful creative children at play. The most important thing is for them to stay together.

A well-crafted, engaging book about resilient childhoods in the face of displacement and conflict. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-84-16733-76-7

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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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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