Pull this out on the next rainy day and have boots, slickers, and boat at the ready.

AFTER THE RAIN

A young boy who longs to play with his toy boat is thrilled when the rain stops and the gutters and downspouts gush.

Levi watches from his nautically decorated bedroom as the last drops of rain fall, quickly donning his yellow raincoat, boots, and hat and grabbing his boat when he spies the water overflowing the gutters. Krüger mixes wide-angle views with vignettes and close-up, ground-level perspectives to get readers right into the action with Levi as he stomps through puddles. The river of water from the downspout to the drain in the sidewalk provides endless fun for the boy and his toy boat…until Polly arrives and claims the stream as her own. The angry visage on the tot, who wears a raindrop-decorated poncho and red boots, sets the stage for a battle that involves splashes and tossed mud, expressions speaking volumes. But when both kids realize the water is drying up, they call a truce and set about creating a mud, rock, leaf, and stick dam. The subsequent lake is a great place to play: “Battle begun but not won. // Building together is much more fun.” The imagination on display will inspire readers, though the battle’s end is more serendipitous than strategic and won’t teach kids much in the way of problem-solving. Levi is dark skinned, Polly light.

Pull this out on the next rainy day and have boots, slickers, and boat at the ready. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5064-5451-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beaming Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text.

KINDNESS GROWS

Rhyming verses about kindness using a consistent metaphor of widening cracks versus blooming plants are amplified by cutouts on each page.

The art and layout are spectacular, from the cover through the double-page spreads near the end. Racially diverse toddlers are shown engaging in various moods and behaviors, some of which create unhappiness and some of which lead to friendship and happiness. Every page’s color palette and composition perfectly complement the narrative. The initial verso shows two children in aggressive stances, backgrounded by a dark, partly moonlit sky. Between them is a slender, crooked cutout. The large-type text reads: “It all / starts / with a / crack / that we can hardly see. / It happens when we shout / or if we disagree.” The recto shows two children in sunlight, with one offering a pretty leaf to the other, and the rhyme addresses the good that grows from kindness. In this image, the crooked die cut forms the trunk of a tiny sapling. Until the final double-page spreads, the art follows this clever setup: dark deeds and a crack on the left, and good deeds and a growing tree on the right. Unfortunately, the text is far from the equal of the art: It is banal and preachy, and it does not even scan well without some effort on the part of whomever is reading it. Still, the youngest children will solemnly agree with the do’s and don’ts, and they may decide to memorize a page or two.

Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68010-229-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Necessary nourishment, infectiously joyous.

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THE KING OF KINDERGARTEN

Newbery honoree Barnes (Crown, illustrated by Gordon C. James, 2017) shows a black boy what to expect on his first day as “king” of kindergarten.

A young boy greets the reader with a sweet smile. “The morning sun blares through your window like a million brass trumpets. / It sits and shines behind your head—like a crown.” The text continues in second person while the boy gets ready for his first day—brushing “Ye Royal Chiclets,” dressing himself, eating breakfast with his mother and father before riding “a big yellow carriage” to “a grand fortress.” The kind teacher and the other children at his table are as eager to meet him as he is to meet them. Important topics are covered in class (“shapes, the alphabet, and the never-ending mystery of numbers”), but playing at recess and sharing with new friends at lunch are highlights too, followed by rest time and music. The playful illustrations use texture and shadow to great effect, with vibrant colors and dynamic shapes and lines sustaining readers’ interest on every page. Text and visuals work together beautifully to generate excitement and confidence in children getting ready to enter kindergarten. The little king’s smiling brown face is refreshing and heartwarming. The other children and parents are a mix of races; the teacher and staff are mostly brown.

Necessary nourishment, infectiously joyous. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4074-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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