MEESHA MAKES FRIENDS

From the Big Bright Feelings series

Build empathy and self-understanding with this simple, compassionate book.

Meesha can make lots of things, but she hasn’t yet learned to make friends.

Meesha can make “pictures out of numbers…and pictures out of sounds” and sometimes “out of both.” But making friends eludes her. She tries, but she doesn’t know what to say or when to say it. Discouraged, she decides to create her own friends, using paints, scissors, and glue. Her new friends are fun and easy to be around. One day, her mom tells her they are going to a party. Meesha is worried. And at first, her fears come true. The party is “noisy, chaotic, and unpredictable,” and she doesn’t know how to join in. So she finds a quiet corner and begins creating friends of her own again. But this time, her created friends lead to making friends with other children. A grayscale color scheme with judicious use of reds and blues makes visual Meesha’s experiences of isolation and an expanding social world. Expressive faces and energetic lines compose scenes children can absorb and make meaning of while they listen. Without labels or categories, this story puts words and pictures to feelings and traits that are difficult to articulate and explain, making this book helpful both for children who can relate to Meesha’s experience and for those who don’t understand such feelings. Meesha is a brown girl among a multiracial cast of children.

Build empathy and self-understanding with this simple, compassionate book. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0519-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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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