The materialistic focus limits the audience for this title.

BROWN BEAR STARTS SCHOOL

Despite some jitters, Brown Bear not only survives his first day; he helps others succeed as well.

Brown Bear and his family have done everything they can in preparation: goodbyes from his father and older brother, lunchbox packed, money for milk, and a new sweater, scarf, and bookbag. But still, he’s worried: What if the other students don’t like him? What if he can’t hear the teacher? What if he’s not wearing the right clothes? His mother talks him through each worry: Many of his friends will be at school; he will hear her even if she whispers; and if his clothes aren’t right, they’ll go shopping. Sure enough, his friends are at school, and they are all dressed similarly. More importantly, though, Brown Bear keeps his friend safe when their ball goes over the fence and is welcoming when Baby Bunny, who’s new to the area, needs a friend. Troublingly, a major focus seems to be on material things and fitting in. Baby Bunny is quick to explain that while her lunch is in a paper bag, she and her mother are going shopping after school. This will exclude kids who can’t afford the typical back-to-school shopping trip as well as those who march to a different drummer. Aizen’s illustrations are charming, the simple backgrounds and scribbly style reminiscent of a child’s artwork.

The materialistic focus limits the audience for this title. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-0773-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere.

THE QUEEN OF KINDERGARTEN

Barnes and Brantley-Newton team up for a follow-up to The King of Kindergarten (2019).

From the very first page, it’s clear that young MJ Malone is ready to face the world—and school. Once Mom bestows her with a glittery tiara and dubs her the queen of kindergarten, MJ is determined to fulfill her duties—brighten up every room she enters, treat others with kindness, and offer a helping hand. Barnes infuses each page with humor and a sense of grace as the immensely likable MJ makes the most of her first day. Barnes’ prose is entertaining and heartwarming, while Brantley-Newton’s vivid and playful artwork will be easily recognizable for anyone who’s seen her work (Grandma’s Purse, 2018; Becoming Vanessa, 2021). The illustrator adds verve to the bold young heroine’s character—from the colorful barrettes to the textured appearance of her adorable denim jumper, the girl has style and substance. MJ Malone embodies the can-do spirit every parent hopes to spark in their own children, though even shy kindergarteners will gladly find a friend in her. MJ and her family are Black; her classroom is diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 24, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-11142-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age.

THE THANKFUL BOOK

Parr focuses his simplistic childlike art and declarative sentences on gratitude for the pleasures and wonders of a child’s everyday life.

Using images of both kids and animals, each colorful scene in bold primary colors declaims a reason to be thankful. “I am thankful for my hair because it makes me unique” shows a yellow-faced child with a wild purple coiffure, indicating self-esteem. An elephant with large pink ears happily exclaims, “I am thankful for my ears because they let me hear words like ‘I love you.’ ” Humor is interjected with, “I am thankful for underwear because I like to wear it on my head.” (Parents will hope that it is clean, but potty-humor–loving children probably won’t care.) Children are encouraged to be thankful for feet, music, school, vacations and the library, “because it is filled with endless adventures,” among other things. The book’s cheery, upbeat message is clearly meant to inspire optimistic gratitude; Parr exhorts children to “remember some [things to be thankful for] every day.”

Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-18101-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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