In this relatable account, a child’s struggles to draw turn to triumph.

What makes a good drawing? Accuracy or embellishment?

This ode to the triumphs and difficulties of drawing opens with the step-by-step construction of a cat. A child named Max then proclaims, “I can’t draw!” Wadded-up scraps of paper on the ground are signs of Max’s frustration as they display their efforts at creating a space cat and a horse. Sorta. In contrast is the horse that Max’s friend Eugene has drawn, a prancing, beautifully rendered equine. Max proceeds to offer Eugene cupcakes in exchange for lessons, which Eugene does, first by giving Max a book and then by working side by side with Max on landscapes, animals, and self-portraits. Alas, only tracing improves Max’s efforts. But Max and their imagination carry the day as the child proceeds to jazz up Eugene’s precise renderings, adding dinosaurs, lasers, and robots—unpolished but attention-grabbing additions. Whether they can draw well or just love to draw, children will enjoy the efforts and friendship of the two round-faced characters. Max’s work is rendered in crayon and Eugene’s work in graphite pen. Additional, colorful illustrations are done with colored pencils, pastels, and ink. All are child-friendly and appealing, reflecting both characters’ talents and passions. Coming full circle, the book concludes with Max’s personalized step-by-step instructions for drawing a cat. Max is light-skinned and bespectacled; Eugene is dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

In this relatable account, a child’s struggles to draw turn to triumph. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9341-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022


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


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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