A charming concept undermined by unfortunate visuals.

A young girl learns that she can store all sorts of things in jars—but should she?

It’s summer, and Freda and her gran, who are both Black, are out picking blueberries. There and on the journey home, Freda stuffs herself silly with blueberries but wails, “I can’t do it! I can’t eat them all!” Gran tells her not to worry because they’ll make blueberry jam—a favorite of Freda’s deceased grandpa—so they can enjoy blueberries, even in the winter. If blueberries can be kept for later enjoyment in jars, Freda wonders, what else can be saved? Freda starts small (with a warm cookie) and soon graduates to bigger things (her friend Jack, who’s moving to Arizona) and on to items significantly larger than that (the moon) and even the nonphysical (music). After Freda puts Gran in a jar (with consent!) she finally begins to see that it may be better to enjoy some things in the moment. Maybe. Brosgol’s accomplished line-and-color art is bright and engaging, and it neatly pairs with the text, giving the illustrations space to tell the story not expressed in words. In close-ups, however, Freda’s drawn with wide eyes and prominent reddish lips, a depiction that’s uncomfortably reminiscent of caricature. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A charming concept undermined by unfortunate visuals. (recipe) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-31487-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021


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


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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