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WE REALLY DO CARE

One-sidedness sinks this well-meaning tale.

A tale of empathy and inclusion.

A white child and a brown-skinned child, both nameless and with button eyes and simply drawn facial features, cross paths in a peaceful city park. Initially, the white child emphatically claims ownership in bold phrases familiar to young ears: “My ball belongs to me,” and “You can’t have my mom.” In a turnkey double-page spread, a park scene on the left shows green grass, a gentle tree trunk, and the white child’s family on a picnic blanket, while across the gutter is vast negative space as the white child notices the brown-skinned child, alone, on the ground end of a seesaw. The negative space creates the pause. “Wait.” What unfolds is a series of broad questions about fear of loneliness and loss. The brown-skinned child plays and shares with the formerly possessive white child but never says a word. It is assumed the brown-skinned child does not have a family, and while the white family welcomes the lonely child, why that child is alone in the park is never resolved. While a lot can be said for unspoken understanding, the brown-skinned child’s voicelessness makes all the interactions feel one-sided and assumptive. A “we” narrative about caring unfurls, stretching to include families, nature, and animals across the world. While micro-interactions are inevitably connected to global networks of caring, the leap from sharing toys to global togetherness is preachy and contrived.

One-sidedness sinks this well-meaning tale. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-3630-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

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

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BUDDY'S NEW BUDDY

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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