ELIZABETI’S SCHOOL

In the beginning there was Elizabeti’s Doll (1998), then, Mama Elizabeti (2000). Now, Stuve-Bodeen and Hale team up for the third installment in the series set in Tanzania. In this addition, Elizabeti is excited to start school. Hale’s mixed-media illustrations picture the preparation: in the opening spread, Mama braids Elizabeti’s hair; a trio of vignettes shows the girl as she tests out her new uniform, twirling her skirt and touching her shoes (“No more bare feet! Elizabeti smiled. School must be a very special place”). But excitement soon leads to anxiety—and back again—as Elizabeti enters the schoolyard. At first Elizabeti pulls away from the action, relying on big sister Pendo for safe keeping; an invitation to a join a game of machaura—American children will recognize the game as a variation of jacks—increases her comfort level. When Elizabeti goes home, however, her enthusiasm wanes. After all, her own shoes are much more comfortable than school shoes, her dress is softer and Obedi the cat has given birth to kittens right under Elizabeti’s bed. It is this event that signals Elizabeti’s change of heart, for she has learned in school how to count to five and uses her newfound skill to count the kittens. Soon, she shows off her knowledge of the alphabet and challenges her mother to a game of machaura. It’s enough to make her realize school might not be so bad after all. Throughout, Stuve-Bodeen distills the essence of the school experience, perfectly capturing a child’s emotional state and confirming the universality of first-day jitters. Accented with lively African-inspired paper Hale’s illustrations contain the texture of Tanzania. Together, the talented team offers up another winning peek at a life that’s different but the same. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-58430-043-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2002

THERE'S NO ONE I LOVE LIKE YOU

Langreuter and Dahle’s gentle story fails to cover any new ground, but readers will relate to Brayden’s experience and...

In this German import, a bunny is convinced that living with his friends will be easier and more enjoyable than obeying the rules at home.

Late one morning, Brayden is reluctant to get out of bed, pick up his toys, wash his whiskers or play with his sisters. He grumbles to his mother, “I wish I could go live with my friends.…I wouldn’t have to do chores.” When his mother asks him if this is really what he wants to do, he picks up his backpack and leaves. All of Brayden’s friends’ families warmly welcome him, but no one scratches his ears “like Mommy does.” No place is exactly right: Missy Mouse’s house is too messy, with toys everywhere; Benny Badger’s family smells “a little funny” because they never wash up; Fipsi Squirrel’s home is too high up in the tree to climb. Cousin Pepi’s house seems perfect until Brayden gets “a curious lump in his bunny throat,…an odd tugging in his bunny tummy [and] a strange jabbing in his bunny heart.” Readers will immediately understand what is happening—he is missing his home and his mommy. Soon, Brayden returns, and Mommy Bunny lovingly welcomes him with a perfect scratch on his ears.

Langreuter and Dahle’s gentle story fails to cover any new ground, but readers will relate to Brayden’s experience and perhaps develop a better appreciation for the comforts and rules of home. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4126-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

WHERE ARE YOUR SHOES, MR. BROWN?

Pedestrian.

Mr. Brown can’t help with farm chores because his shoes are missing—a common occurrence in his household and likely in many readers’ as well.

Children will be delighted that the titular Mr. Brown is in fact a child. After Mr. Brown looks in his closet and sorts through his other family members’ shoes with no luck, his father and his siblings help him search the farm. Eventually—after colorful pages that enable readers to spot footwear hiding—the family gives up on their hunt, and Mr. Brown asks to be carried around for the chores. He rides on his father’s shoulders as Papa gets his work done, as seen on a double-page spread of vignettes. The resolution is more of a lesson for the adult readers than for children, a saccharine moment where father and son express their joy that the missing shoes gave them the opportunity for togetherness—with advice for other parents to appreciate those fleeting moments themselves. Though the art is bright and cheerful, taking advantage of the setting, it occasionally is misaligned with the text (for example, the text states that Mr. Brown is wearing his favorite green shirt while the illustration is of a shirt with wide stripes of white and teal blue, which could confuse readers at the point where they’re trying to figure out which family member is Mr. Brown). The family is light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Pedestrian. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 14, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-5460-0389-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: WorthyKids/Ideals

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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