ALL THE COLORS OF THE EARTH

This heavily earnest celebration of multi-ethnicity combines full-bleed paintings of smiling children, viewed through a golden haze dancing, playing, planting seedlings, and the like, with a hyperbolic, disconnected text—``Dark as leopard spots, light as sand,/Children buzz with laughter that kisses our land...''— printed in wavy lines. Literal-minded readers may have trouble with the author's premise, that ``Children come in all the colors of the earth and sky and sea'' (green? blue?), and most of the children here, though of diverse and mixed racial ancestry, wear shorts and T-shirts and seem to be about the same age. Hamanaka has chosen a worthy theme, but she develops it without the humor or imagination that animates her Screen of Frogs (1993). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-11131-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1994

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For places where the first-grade shelves are particularly thin.

ON THE FIRST DAY OF FIRST GRADE

The traditional song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” gets a school makeover as readers follow a cheery narrator through the first 12 days of first grade.

“On the first day of first grade / I had fun right away // laughing and learning all day!” In these first two spreads, Jennings shows the child, who has brown skin and a cloud of dark-brown hair, entering the schoolyard with a diverse array of classmates and settling in. In the backgrounds, caregivers, including a woman in hijab, stand at the fence and kids hang things on hooks in the back of the room. Each new day sees the child and their friends enjoying new things, previous days’ activities repeated in the verses each time so that those listening will soon be chiming in. The child helps in the classroom, checks out books from the library, plants seeds, practices telling time and counting money, leads the line, performs in a play, shows off a picture of their pet bunny, and does activities in gym, music, and art classes. The Photoshop-and-watercolor illustrations portray adorable and engaged kids having fun while learning with friends. But while the song and topic are the same, this doesn’t come close to touching either the hysterical visuals or great rhythm of Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003).

For places where the first-grade shelves are particularly thin. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266851-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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Substitute teachers are a rite of passage for students; this narrator’s change of heart provides a good example of handling...

DEAR SUBSTITUTE

A rough day with a sub slowly improves as the child narrator gets to know her and is introduced to new things.

Each double-page spread is a letter addressed to some aspect of the day: “Dear Substitute, / Wow. This is a surprise. / What are you doing here? / Where’s Mrs. Giordano, / and why didn’t she warn us?” Opposite, Raschka’s watercolor-and-gouache portrait is appropriately grim and forbidding. Other addressees include “attendance” (the sub can’t pronounce some of the names), the homework the narrator labored over (a waste), and the class turtle (it’s “Tank Tuesday,” but it won’t get cleaned today). But after admonishing the narrator for lunch-trading (an allergy risk), the sub gives the class extra storytime, only with “strange little poems” instead of their chapter book. It turns out the narrator loves them, even making one (with the sub’s help) about the turtle, and just like that, the day is turned around. The narrator, depicted as a pale-skinned child with brown pigtails, has a new outlook on subs (and maybe new experiences): “Sometimes you’ve got to / mix things up a little.” Raschka’s characteristically splashy, modern-ish illustrations, while expressive and with colors that match the changing moods, are casually childlike and sometimes hard to decode.

Substitute teachers are a rite of passage for students; this narrator’s change of heart provides a good example of handling it with aplomb. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4847-5022-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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