KNOCKS IN THE NIGHT

A sudden snowstorm leaves forest animals out in the cold.

Peter’s small house sits “all draped in white.” He’s snug in bed in his white nightshirt when he hears a knock at the door. “Please let me in,” a voice cries. “I’m f-f-freezing!” Peter, a large white man with red hair and mustache, finds a hare out in the snow and invites him in. After getting dressed, Peter fills the stove with wood and gets a nice fire going. Both are nodding off when there’s another knock at the door. It’s the fox, frozen from top to toe. The hare pleads with Peter to ignore the fox. “Foxes have a nasty habit / Of eating things that look like rabbit.” Fox promises to be good, and Peter lets him in. One more creature disturbs their slumber, a big brown bear. Peter plays peacemaker, and all settle down to sleep as the storm rages outside. Next morning, all is clear, and the animals venture back into the forest, one by one, before Peter awakens. Tracks in the snow tell him this wasn’t a dream. Michels’ verse feels easy; Michl depicts animals with care, and Peter looks like a Maurice Sendak child all grown up. The story is a bit thin, but the book captures a wintry mood and is handsomely designed; each double-page spread has a beautiful, white-bordered illustration on one side and ample white space for a small vignette and a stanza or two on the other.

Quiet and nifty. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-76036-011-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Starfish Bay

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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 straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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