Models how to say “I love you” for children—but readers may wonder what all the fuss is about.

FROM ARCHIE TO ZACK

Two little boys express their love for each other.

Everyone in Zack and Archie’s class knows they love each other. The two boys do everything together: ride a tandem bike, build elaborate sand castles, play miniature golf, fly rainbow kites. For unexplained reasons, neither boy can admit their love to the other even though they each want to. Archie, who’s White, writes brief letters telling Zack, who’s Black, his feelings, but in each one, “something’s missing.” He hides each one. Finally three girls find the hidden notes and give them to Zack in an elementary school version of forced outing. Since the entire book is about two kids who both love each other and everyone seems fine with it, it’s unclear where the tension is coming from, and the climax fizzles when it’s revealed that Zack has also been writing letters to Archie. The illustrations are goofy and energetic, with lots of small details on every page. Their classroom includes some background diversity; unfortunately, two children, likely intended as East Asian, are depicted with stereotypically slanted eyes. One girl wears a hijab and another a bindi, and a third uses a wheelchair; a Hanukkah scene indicates that at least one of the boys is Jewish. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15.3% of actual size.)

Models how to say “I love you” for children—but readers may wonder what all the fuss is about. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4367-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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All we want for Christmas is a more coherent story.

THE CHRISTMAS PRINCESS

THE ADVENTURES OF LITTLE MARIAH

Singer Carey, whose “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is in near-constant rotation each holiday season, makes the leap to Christmas picture book with co-author Davis.

Little Mariah lives in a worn, shabby house in a wealthy neighborhood; though poor, she has a kind nature and musical talent—both of which ultimately save her. Taunted by a nasty brother-sister duo who enter her home uninvited, Little Mariah is distracted by snowfall and runs out into the nearby woods. The snow transforms into Snowflake Butterfly Fairies. Following these entrancing visions, she encounters a gang of bullies but, having tripped over a heart-shaped stone, she uses its magical properties for good in a convoluted series of events. The Butterfly Fairy Queen arrives and crowns Little Mariah the Christmas Princess for her “perfectly pure songs from the heart.” Back at Little Mariah’s house, which has been miraculously transformed, Little Mariah performs Carey’s uber-hit Christmas song. Overwritten, overwrought, overlong, and narrated in clunky verse, this holiday story, seemingly inspired by Carey’s early childhood and with “Little Match Girl” and “Cinderella” vibes, rambles while making its trite, albeit well-meaning, point. It will attract attention because of the star power of its co-author; note her empowering foreword. The colorful illustrations are cheery. Wide-eyed, blond-curled Mariah and the Fairy Queen have light-tan skin; Mariah’s mom and several other characters, including the bullying brother and sister, are pale-skinned; the fairies are diverse in skin tone. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

All we want for Christmas is a more coherent story. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-83711-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

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 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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