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A warm and tender tale of family traditions.

A young South Asian girl is enthralled by her mother’s henna designs.

Nikita watches in awe as Mom draws on the child’s hands—will she ever be able to create such delicate patterns? Her mother and grandmother remind her that she comes from a long line of henna artists and she, too, will learn. Nikita uses scrap paper to practice designs from her grandmother’s notebook, filled with patterns. One day her grandmother hands her a cone filled with mehndi, but in her eagerness, Nikita squeezes too hard, and the paste creates an ugly smudge. Upset and frustrated, she withdraws, watching her mother and grandmother from afar. One day, when her mother goes to a wedding to apply bridal henna, Nikita tags along. Amid the festive atmosphere, she watches closely as her mother creates intricate patterns on the bride’s hand. Ready to try again the next day, with gentle strokes, Nikita creates a small pattern on her grandmother’s hand. Bajaj sensitively explores the frustration children encounter when trying new tasks. With gentle coaxing from her family, Nikita learns to trust herself and take pride in her henna art. Dynamic illustrations filled with traditional floral designs of creeping vines, blossoming flowers, and paisleys trail across the pages. The hues of henna—which is dark green when first applied and dries to a warm red—are reflected in the earthy colors throughout the story.

A warm and tender tale of family traditions. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 11, 2024

ISBN: 9780593325117

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

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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From the Food Group series

From curds to riches, from meltdown to uplift—this multicourse romp delivers.

A winning wheel of cheddar with braggadocio to match narrates a tale of comeuppance and redemption.

From humble beginnings among kitchen curds living “quiet lives of pasteurization,” the Big Cheese longs to be the best and builds success and renown based on proven skills and dependable results: “I stuck to the things I was good at.” When newcomer Wedge moves to the village of Curds-on-Whey, the Cheese’s star status wobbles and falls. Turns out that quiet, modest Wedge is also multitalented. At the annual Cheese-cathlon, Wedge bests six-time winner Cheese in every event, from the footrace and chess to hat making and bread buttering. A disappointed Cheese throws a full-blown tantrum before arriving at a moment of truth: Self-calming, conscious breathing permits deep relief that losing—even badly—does not result in disaster. A debrief with Wedge “that wasn’t all about me” leads to further realizations: Losing builds empathy for others; obsession with winning obscures “the joy of participating.” The chastened cheddar learns to reserve bragging for lifting up friends, because anyone can be the Big Cheese. More didactic and less pun-rich than previous entries in the Food Group series, this outing nevertheless couples a cheerful refrain with pithy life lessons that hit home. Oswald’s detailed, comical illustrations continue to provide laughs, including a spot with Cheese onstage doing a “CHED” talk.

From curds to riches, from meltdown to uplift—this multicourse romp delivers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780063329508

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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