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Energetic and encouraging.

Gordon, a teen artist and activist who in 2020 went viral for his painting of then–Vice President–elect Kamala Harris, draws from his own experiences for this story of a child who uses art to express himself.

Tyler’s words always get “STUCK.” “Long words. Short words. Silly words. All words.” In his head, Tyler can speak “loudly” and “proudly,” tell knock-knock jokes, and “even reveal the real reason why that chicken crossed the road.” Yet in reality, “his tongue [gets] tied, and his words just [won’t] come out right,” a predicament vividly expressed via tangled scrawls and a spread depicting Tyler with a long, loop-laced tongue. Still, Tyler won’t give up. His mother encourages him, and together they paint and practice saying “short words, long words, silly words” to describe their work. But at school, his stutter makes it hard for Tyler to find friends; kids stare and laugh when he stammers during show and tell. Again, his mother reassures him. Her ability to understand his paintings, even when they’re imperfect, gives Tyler an idea. At the next show and tell, Tyler proudly unveils his self-portrait…and his audience goes “WILD!” Rhythmic, rhyming, and repeated phrases give the text strong read-aloud appeal; Gordon’s animated, endearing cartoon illustrations readily convey Tyler’s apprehension, determination, and joy. An author’s note explains that Gordon was born deaf and acquired a stutter after undergoing surgery to improve his hearing. Tyler and his mom are Black; his classmates are diverse.

Energetic and encouraging. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2024

ISBN: 9780374389673

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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