Skills practice and a peek at the school day: a solid way to prepare.

Readers count to 10 and back down again as they follow an elementary-age student through a typical school day.

“ONE backpack. / TWO teachers” sees the child (who has brown skin and hair in one long, brown braid) arriving, apple in hand. Smaller text in the illustrations directs readers toward other objects to count: “1 globe,” “2 pencils.” The kids listen to their teachers, explore the classroom, play with blocks. Then “TEN chickpeas line up” for snack, each child standing under their own charming, realistically childlike self-portrait. The diverse class includes a range of skin colors and hairstyles, a child who uses a wheelchair (and sits on the floor without it at times), one with hearing aids and an assistive listening device, one wearing glasses, and one in hijab. One teacher has brown skin and puffy brown hair; the other teacher presents Asian. Recess, rest time, more learning, and yoga poses round out the day. Fascinating textures and colors, often supplied by collaged-in bits of found paper (such as ticket stubs and old-fashioned date due cards) fill the pages, inviting readers to look closely. Most of the items are easy to find and count. The characters are rendered in a naïve, folk-art style with two-dimensional stiffness, and one child’s missing front tooth is almost distractingly conspicuous. The final, titular message comes on the penultimate page and is posted on the wall along with a banner saying, “We are ONE community.” Backmatter includes the numbers from 11 to 20, with items to count for each.

Skills practice and a peek at the school day: a solid way to prepare. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-16381-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020


Sentimental but effective.

A book aimed at easing separation anxiety and reinforcing bonds.

Twins Liza and Jeremy awaken during a thunderstorm and go to their mother for comfort. She reassures them that they’re safe and says, “You know we’re always together, no matter what,” when they object to returning to bed. She then explains that when she was a child her mother told her about the titular “Invisible String,” encouraging them to envision it as a link between them no matter what. “People who love each other are always connected by a very special String made of love,” she tells them, reinforcing this idea as they proceed to imagine various scenarios, fantastic and otherwise, that might cause them to be separated in body. She also affirms that this string can “reach all the way to Uncle Brian in heaven” and that it doesn’t go away if she’s angry with them or when they have conflicts. As they go to bed, reassured, the children, who present white, imagine their friends and diverse people around the world connected with invisible strings, promoting a vision of global unity and empathy. While the writing often feels labored and needlessly repetitive, Lew-Vriethoff’s playful cartoon art enhances and lightens the message-driven text, which was originally published in 2000 with illustrations by Geoff Stevenson.

Sentimental but effective. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-48623-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018


A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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