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From the Penelope Rex Book series

A resonant tale of gaining self-esteem by conquering what seems scary.

You’d think a T. rex wouldn’t be afraid of anything. You’d be wrong.

In her latest outing, Penelope Rex is terrified of Walter, the class goldfish. One might suppose a goldfish would be petrified of her, a large dinosaur with a disproportionately sized head. Penelope has reasons to be frightened, though: Walter is “bitey” (Penelope’s discovered this firsthand—literally) and has “menacing fins” and “unblinky eyes.” Unfortunately, her teacher announces that each student will have a chance to care for Walter over a weekend. When Penelope’s turn arrives, she strives to make the best of it, including Walter in her usual activities and attempting to distract him (and herself). After a few peculiarities—weird nighttime noises and a broken lamp—Walter disappears; the ensuing search leads to a complete overhaul of Penelope’s feelings for her nemesis. Following Walter’s subsequent reappearance, the rest of the weekend goes swimmingly, and Penelope’s parents have a big surprise for her. We don’t lose a class pet, but we gain a humorous, relatable story about taking dinosaur-sized pride in overcoming fears. Kids have anxieties, and this tale makes them recognizable—and a little less frightening. The lively, comical illustrations, created with graphite, ink, Photoshop, and scans of treated clayboard for textures, are appealing; Penelope is most expressive, her oversized head and large, dewy eyes emphasizing her winsome vulnerability. Penelope’s human classmates are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A resonant tale of gaining self-esteem by conquering what seems scary. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 28, 2023

ISBN: 9781368076982

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2023

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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 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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From the Growing With Buddy series , Vol. 3

Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient.

How do you make a new friend when an old one moves away?

Buddy (from Sorry, Grown-Ups, You Can’t Go to School, 2019, etc.) is feeling lonely. His best friend just moved across town. To make matters worse, there is a field trip coming up, and Buddy needs a bus partner. His sister, Lady, has some helpful advice for making a new pal: “You just need to find something you have in common.” Buddy loves the game Robo Chargers and karate. Surely there is someone else who does, too! Unfortunately, there isn’t. However, when a new student arrives (one day later) and asks everyone to call her Sunny instead of Alison, Buddy gets excited. No one uses his given name, either; they just call him Buddy. He secretly whispers his “real, official name” to Sunny at lunch—an indication that a true friendship is being formed. The rest of the story plods merrily along, all pieces falling exactly into place (she even likes Robo Chargers!), accompanied by Bowers’ digital art, a mix of spot art and full-bleed illustrations. Friendship-building can be an emotionally charged event in a child’s life—young readers will certainly see themselves in Buddy’s plight—but, alas, there is not much storytelling magic to be found. Buddy and his family are White, Sunny and Mr. Teacher are Black, and Buddy’s other classmates are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-30709-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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