Not a visual inspiration; at most, a jumping-off point about Casa Battló.

CARMEN AND THE HOUSE THAT GAUDÍ BUILT

A fictionalized origin story of a real architectural marvel.

“Carmen Batlló, our very important visitor is here!” calls Carmen’s family, trying to lure her out of the woods around their country home. She’s reluctant. Nature comforts her, and when she’s alone, she can talk to her “invisible salamander,” Dragon, a huge, pale green, imaginary creature. The visitor is Antoni Gaudí, who, over time, designs a stunningly unusual city house for Carmen’s family. Gaudí, the Batlló family, and Casa Batlló—built between 1904 and 1906 in Barcelona—are all real; Hughes’ fancy is that Gaudí bases his wildly creative design on a personal, shared understanding with little Carmen about nature and Dragon. When the curving, glittering Casa Batlló reaches completion, Ferrer’s art does it tolerable justice. The front is shown with sinuous lines and covered in multicolored tiles (though the hues are off, and dark trees that flank it dominate), a blue room is depicted with layers of light as if undersea, and the undulating roof is pictured as a sculpture of, specifically, Dragon. Earlier, the illustrations are odd, portraying Carmen’s (and Gaudí’s) beloved nature scenes—supposedly wondrous because they’re devoid of “sharp corners”—as full of dark, ominous plants sharp enough to cut and sinister tertiary colors with mustard tones. The final house looks passably striking, though far less sparkly and unconventional than it should—as demonstrated with a closing photograph.

Not a visual inspiration; at most, a jumping-off point about Casa Battló. (author’s note, selected sources) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77147-392-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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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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A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning.

THE MAGICAL YET

Children realize their dreams one step at a time in this story about growth mindset.

A child crashes and damages a new bicycle on a dark, rainy day. Attempting a wheelie, the novice cyclist falls onto the sidewalk, grimacing, and, having internalized this setback as failure, vows to never ride again but to “walk…forever.” Then the unnamed protagonist happens upon a glowing orb in the forest, a “thought rearranger-er”—a luminous pink fairy called the Magical Yet. This Yet reminds the child of past accomplishments and encourages perseverance. The second-person rhyming couplets remind readers that mistakes are part of learning and that with patience and effort, children can achieve. Readers see the protagonist learn to ride the bike before a flash-forward shows the child as a capable college graduate confidently designing a sleek new bike. This book shines with diversity: racial, ethnic, ability, and gender. The gender-indeterminate protagonist has light brown skin and exuberant curly locks; Amid the bustling secondary cast, one child uses a prosthesis, and another wears hijab. At no point in the text is the Yet defined as a metaphor for a growth mindset; adults reading with younger children will likely need to clarify this abstract lesson. The artwork is powerful and detailed—pay special attention to the endpapers that progress to show the Yet at work.

A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02562-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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