This French import is well intentioned but unlikely to melt many hearts.

SNOWMEN LIVE FOREVER

Even though a beloved snowman melts away, his friends learn he isn’t gone forever.

Four forest animals depend on the Snowman’s wisdom and antics. When spring’s arrival melts him away, the group sets off to the seaside to search for what’s left of the Snowman, ultimately finding him watching them from above as a puffy, snowman-shaped cloud. Learning that they can reunite with the Snowman when the snow falls is a clever and sweet wrap-up, but as a whole, the book feels stuck in the slush. The wordy, meandering plot makes the book feel aimless—is it meant to be a reflection on friendship and loss or a rollicking journey story? Since the initial relationship between the critters and their frosty friend feels underdeveloped, their grief seems contrived, and given his moderately uncanny black button eyes, some readers might be a little relieved to see the Snowman thaw. Rabbit, Hedgehog, Squirrel, and Owl share the same flaw, all portrayed in a semirealistic style but with disconcertingly blank eyes that aren’t entirely offset by their darling winter hats. Charming or moving pages are scattered through—a boisterous wagon ride; a beautifully blurred page in olive, tan, and brown of small faces staring up in wonder—but they don’t quite overcome the illustrations in which the animal’s bodies are peculiarly shaped and scaled.

This French import is well intentioned but unlikely to melt many hearts. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5526-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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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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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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