An uneven but nevertheless worthy effort.



From the Let's Talk About You and Me series

This installment of the Let’s Talk About You and Me series tackles a wide range of topics related to human diversity.

Opening text affirms everyone’s uniqueness: “All around the world there are people—billions of people. But there is only one of you,” while Westcott’s art depicts ethnically diverse families entering a theme park called Funland. There are interracial families, a child using a wheelchair, a woman wearing a headscarf, and a two-dad family. One interracial family, including a black mother, white father, two children, and a baby appears in every spread, and the children’s speech-balloon conversation punctuates the narrative text’s statements about hair texture, skin color, eye shape, languages, dress, stature, etc. While the intention is clearly inclusive, some phrasing may give readers pause: “People’s bodies are mostly the same—except for the parts that make them a girl or a boy, or a man or a woman,” for instance, ignores increasing awareness of intersex bodies and transgender identity. Illustrations also do little to present diversity in body shape and size, since the majority of people depicted are slim. Readers are invited to consider the pain caused by “saying mean things,” which pushes beyond surface celebration of diversity. This leads to a closing reiteration of each person’s uniqueness while also emphasizing that “we are more the same than we are different,” especially with regard to feelings. [Note: Subsequent printings of the book replace the sentence "People's bodies are mostly the same—except for the parts that make them a girl or boy, or a man or a woman" with the following text: "People’s bodies are mostly the same except for the private parts we are born with. Those parts are called a vagina or a penis.”]

An uneven but nevertheless worthy effort. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6903-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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All we want for Christmas is a more coherent story.



Singer Carey, whose “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is in near-constant rotation each holiday season, makes the leap to Christmas picture book with co-author Davis.

Little Mariah lives in a worn, shabby house in a wealthy neighborhood; though poor, she has a kind nature and musical talent—both of which ultimately save her. Taunted by a nasty brother-sister duo who enter her home uninvited, Little Mariah is distracted by snowfall and runs out into the nearby woods. The snow transforms into Snowflake Butterfly Fairies. Following these entrancing visions, she encounters a gang of bullies but, having tripped over a heart-shaped stone, she uses its magical properties for good in a convoluted series of events. The Butterfly Fairy Queen arrives and crowns Little Mariah the Christmas Princess for her “perfectly pure songs from the heart.” Back at Little Mariah’s house, which has been miraculously transformed, Little Mariah performs Carey’s uber-hit Christmas song. Overwritten, overwrought, overlong, and narrated in clunky verse, this holiday story, seemingly inspired by Carey’s early childhood and with “Little Match Girl” and “Cinderella” vibes, rambles while making its trite, albeit well-meaning, point. It will attract attention because of the star power of its co-author; note her empowering foreword. The colorful illustrations are cheery. Wide-eyed, blond-curled Mariah and the Fairy Queen have light-tan skin; Mariah’s mom and several other characters, including the bullying brother and sister, are pale-skinned; the fairies are diverse in skin tone. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

All we want for Christmas is a more coherent story. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-83711-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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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 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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