With its small trim size, this empathetic offering might be just the thing for little ones to take off by themselves when...

PRICKLY JENNY

A girl is in low spirits all day.

“Jenny doesn’t say good morning because, really, what’s so good about it?” opens the story, plunging readers into Jenny’s mood. She doesn’t want her new polka-dot dress, she wants an old T-shirt; she grumbles and drags her feet on the way to the fair. Jenny doesn’t want compliments for her artwork, and she doesn’t want “you” to notice a temporary smile that sneaks out during her genuine melancholy. Sometimes she knows what she wants and sometimes not: “Jenny says, ‘Leave me alone!’ But she cries when Mommy goes away.” Delacroix uses the left side of each spread for text—dark blue lettering, shaded in with the same blue, on white background—and the right side for images. Each illustration features Jenny, with her huge head, expressive face, and small, blocky, vulnerable feet. Background coloring for the illustrations is a warm, yellowish taupe—not quite an unfriendly color but certainly not a comforting one. There’s no neat solution here, just welcome acknowledgement of irritation, unsettled emotions and bad days. Few readers won’t recognize the emotional core: “Jenny is feeling out of sorts, but she doesn’t want to talk about it. She just wants to be loved.”

With its small trim size, this empathetic offering might be just the thing for little ones to take off by themselves when they’re feeling prickly. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-77147-129-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

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 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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