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Does this book have what it takes to help kids in any practical way? Go fish. (Picture book. 4-7)

As the song goes: “Gray skies are gonna clear up / Put on a happy face!”

With an assist from Blankson, the author of the positive psychology guide The Happiness Advantage (2010) takes his message to children in this newly illustrated reissue of the 2012 title Ripple’s Effect, originally illustrated by Cecilia Rebora. A smiley dolphin named Ripple, new to the aquarium, is eager to make friends. Alas, she discovers that the other sea creatures live in fear of Snark, a bullying shark. Undeterred, Ripple teaches everyone a game in which players must stare into another’s face for seven seconds without smiling. Naturally, this elicits belly laughs among the aquarium’s denizens. When Snark investigates the newfound attitude of the formerly frightened, he’s pulled into the game, and thanks to his inevitable smile, all bullying is henceforth forgotten. Whether readers believe Ripple’s declarations that happiness is a choice (thereby circumventing the existence of depression and mental illness) is rather beside the point. Children are meant to glean from this book methods that help increase their own happiness, illuminated by the book’s backmatter. Alas, the story eschews practical methods of handling bullying. Nor, for that matter, does it confront the idea that sometimes a bully can experience great happiness…from the misery of others. Colorful, peppy art perfectly plays up the book’s un-nuanced can-do attitude.

Does this book have what it takes to help kids in any practical way? Go fish. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-9472-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Pickle Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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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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