Sweet but incomplete.

A new kindergartener’s worries about starting school bleed over into his parents’ minds, too.

Despite his mother and father’s enthusiastic assurances that he’ll make new friends and learn new things on his first day of kindergarten, Milo (an anthropomorphic kitten rendered in Wells’ soft and expressive signature style) is anxious about starting school. On the night before kindergarten, he has a series of nightmares about things that could go wrong. He wakes up in the middle of the night and tells Mama and Daddy all about the dreams, eventually going back to sleep while snuggled between them in their bed. The next day, Milo successfully makes the transition to school, where he even helps his teacher, Miss B, soothe other kittens who miss their parents. As for Milo’s parents, his dreams take root in their consciousness, making them fret about him as he goes about his day away from them. They needn’t have worried, though, because Milo has a great time doing various activities, and he even brings Heather, a new friend, home on the bus with him. The story winds up feeling a bit disjointed, however, since we never see Milo reunite with his parents at book’s end to put their minds at ease and share about his day; instead, the tale concludes with Milo and Heather eating pizza. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet but incomplete. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 27, 2023

ISBN: 9781665924894

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2023


Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022


A straightforward tale of conflict and reconciliation for newly emergent readers? Not exactly, which raises it above the...

In this deceptively spare, very beginning reader, a girl assembles a robot and then treats it like a slave until it goes on strike.

Having put the robot together from a jumble of loose parts, the budding engineer issues an increasingly peremptory series of rhymed orders— “Throw, Bot. / Row, Bot”—that turn from playful activities like chasing bubbles in the yard to tasks like hoeing the garden, mowing the lawn and towing her around in a wagon. Jung crafts a robot with riveted edges, big googly eyes and a smile that turns down in stages to a scowl as the work is piled on. At last, the exhausted robot plops itself down, then in response to its tormentor’s angry “Don’t say no, Bot!” stomps off in a huff. In one to four spacious, sequential panels per spread, Jung develops both the plotline and the emotional conflict using smoothly modeled cartoon figures against monochromatic or minimally detailed backgrounds. The child’s commands, confined in small dialogue balloons, are rhymed until her repentant “Come on home, Bot” breaks the pattern but leads to a more equitable division of labor at the end.

A straightforward tale of conflict and reconciliation for newly emergent readers? Not exactly, which raises it above the rest. (Easy reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-87083-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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