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A solid choice for starting discussions on bullying, friendship, and kindness.

In actor and mental health advocate Henson’s debut picture book, a young girl facing troubles at school takes her grandma’s advice.

Lil TJ can’t wait to start school and make new friends. She has her own unique style, and she lets it shine on her first day. She participates eagerly, but at recess, a boy named Beau gives her a hard time. Beau mocks everything about her, from her small stature to the peanut butter and tomato sandwich she eats at lunch. Lil TJ starts to dull her shine. She wears plain clothes and styles her hair like the other girls in class to avoid Beau’s attention, but she’s still nervous. And will she ever make friends? Grandma Patsy, with whom Lil TJ talks almost daily on her tablet, reminds her that nurturing friendships takes time and tells her she should continue to be her sweet self. The next day at recess, Lil TJ stays inside and plays music. When other kids hear, they join her, and Beau looks nervous as he struggles with an instrument. Lil TJ remembers Grandma Patsy’s words of wisdom and takes the opportunity to turn her and Beau’s relationship around. While the message is timeless and the characters likable, the story’s resolution feels a bit too easy. Lively, expressive, cartoonlike illustrations bring the straightforward text to life. Lil TJ is Black, Beau is brown-skinned, and their class is diverse.

A solid choice for starting discussions on bullying, friendship, and kindness. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 18, 2024

ISBN: 9780310160595

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2024

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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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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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