Generously open to young readers’ interpretations, this Swedish import lingers

A stony, lonely, mountain-dwelling Creature longs for companionship.

Prime’s translation conveys Stark’s fey tale to English-speaking readers with understated whimsy. Immured in her cave during the day to escape the harmful rays of the sun, the Creature thinks the world outside is as gray as her cave. She “dreams of the moon and of having someone small to sing to and care for.” At night, she emerges. She tries to swim to the moon, but it “shatter[s] into a thousand gleams.” She sings, “GRRR,” and blows spit bubbles as she looks up at it. The Creature is intemperate in her loneliness, and young readers will understand how her grumpiness leads her to pound the walls. Then a stray sun spark flies into her cave and becomes, for a single day, the Creature’s new Little Small. They aren’t really compatible at all, but the Creature does her best to understand the spark, who shows her the world’s colors and describes its landscapes and inhabitants. While their relationship is as evanescent as, well, a spark, it is nevertheless transformative for both; the Creature can now see colors, and the tiny spark sings a farewell “GRR” as it travels back to the Sun, lofted up in a spit bubble. Bondestam’s collage illustrations depict the Creature as a gray, pear-shaped figure with pointy teeth that somehow don’t seem scary at all.

Generously open to young readers’ interpretations, this Swedish import lingers . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59270-209-1

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018


Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes.

Oscar winner McConaughey offers intriguing life observations.

The series of pithy, wry comments, each starting with the phrase “Just because,” makes clear that each of us is a mass of contradictions: “Just because we’re friends, / doesn’t mean you can’t burn me. / Just because I’m stubborn, / doesn’t mean that you can’t turn me.” Witty, digitally rendered vignettes portray youngsters diverse in terms of race and ability (occasionally with pets looking on) dealing with everything from friendship drama to a nerve-wracking footrace. “Just because I’m dirty, / doesn’t mean I can’t get clean” is paired with an image of a youngster taking a bath while another character (possibly an older sibling) sits nearby, smiling. “Just because you’re nice, / doesn’t mean you can’t get mean” depicts the older one berating the younger one for tracking mud into the house. The artwork effectively brings to life the succinct, rhyming text and will help readers make sense of it. Perhaps, after studying the illustrations and gaining further insight into the comments, kids will reread and reflect upon them further. The final page unites the characters from earlier pages with a reassuring message for readers: “Just because the sun has set, / doesn’t mean it will not rise. / Because every day is a gift, / each one a new surprise. BELIEVE IT.” As a follow-up, readers should be encouraged to make their own suggestions to complete the titular phrase. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780593622032

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


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

Close Quickview