Solid series additions that teach useful skills and the power of practice.

FREDA IS FOUND

From the I See I Learn series

Murphy’s I See I Learn visual learning series continues with two new titles for children that focus on the cognitive skill of name writing and strategies to stay safe when lost.

When Freda’s attention wanders to the toy store window, she stops to look, but her class keeps walking toward the firehouse. Lost, Freda must use all she has learned to help her teachers and classmates find her again. She stays calm, gets help from an adult and is able to tell that adult about herself—full name, address, phone number and school and teacher names. A final flow chart presents readers with these steps, and questions to the readers focus on “What if…” The scariness of being lost is ameliorated somewhat by the fact that most of the illustrations show the class within sight of Freda. In the simultaneously publishing Write On, Carlos (2011), Carlos asks his mom for help in learning to write his name. Over several days, readers can see that his practice is paying off as he progresses from being able to write “Car” to proudly writing his full name on paper, in sand and with chalk while his supportive friends watch. An alphabet chart at the bottom of many pages highlights the letters used to form the names, while the final question section asks readers what names they can write. The bright illustrations clearly show both the effort that Carlos is expending and his imperfect practice pages. 

Solid series additions that teach useful skills and the power of practice. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58089-462-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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A simple story enhanced by its funny, gently ironic illustrations.

MY GOOD MORNING

A little girl diligently gets ready for her day but leaves lots of messes in her wake.

The unnamed girl has light brown skin and dark brown curls similar to her dad’s, and her mom is white. The characters in the digital illustrations have big, exaggerated eyes. The child narrates the text matter-of-factly in simple rhyming sentences: “Time to go potty. I can do this! / Mommy is there to make sure I don’t miss.” Each double-page spread presents a slightly different, humorous visual interpretation of the situation, and it’s in this juxtaposition that the book shines. The cat’s in the hamper, underwear and socks are on the floor, and the pink toilet paper is trailing all over. The two parents seem a little overwhelmed. As they both try to get the girl into her clothes, one arm escapes, and the dad is really sweating from exertion. She insists on tying her laces and buttoning her coat, and the illustrations show the exuberant but incomplete results. As the girl grabs her backpack, her apple rolls out, and Mommy has to grab it. At school, she hangs her coat up, but somehow it lands on the floor (her scarf is also awry), and observant viewers will notice that her shoelace is still untied. In her diverse classroom, she proudly announces: “But this time Daddy, I won’t cry”—and now readers can believe her: there’s nary a tear in sight.

A simple story enhanced by its funny, gently ironic illustrations. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60537-342-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clavis

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A story that feels outdated despite its sturdy, timeless message.

PRINCESS CHARMING

A young princess struggles to find something she is good at.

Princess Charming finds it hard to be perfect—something, she says, everyone expects of her. She tries cooking, dancing, and singing but admits she’s hopeless at them, although she keeps trying. When glamorous movie star Stella Sparkle—illustrated with brown hair and light brown skin—visits the palace to determine if it is a good filming location for her next movie, the princess, a huge fan, is excited to meet her. But when the princess’s dog jumps on Stella and her earring goes missing, will the movie plan be put in jeopardy? It is at this tenuous juncture that Princess Charming finds out exactly what she is good at—a point that is made with some heavy-handedness. While the story includes many racially diverse secondary characters, the fact that the princess and the rest of the royal family are White suggests a power imbalance that undermines the book’s attempt at racial inclusiveness. Princess Charming’s jocular, self-deprecating narration is cute enough. The digital illustrations are lively and colorful, but they merely mirror the text instead of elevating the storyline. The final twist, a play on an old fairy tale, is pleasingly unexpected and solidifies the story’s message in a nuanced way. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A story that feels outdated despite its sturdy, timeless message. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-32678-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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