Not simplistic but relentlessly utilitarian.

ZACH MAKES MISTAKES

From the Zach Rules series

Zach’s inattention to rules on a field trip results in a couple of embarrassing faux pas, but with help from a friend and a teacher he learns how to deal.

As in the two previous Zach Rules episodes, the plot is just a vehicle for conveying coping strategies and constructive responses for less-than-exemplary behaviors. Already mortified to be wearing a humongous school T-shirt on the trip because he forgot to wear his own, Zach is further distressed when he forgets the museum’s “no touching” rule and pats an exhibited bison. But thanks to classmate Sonya’s laughing tale of wearing a costume by mistake to a formal party and Ms. Rosamond’s failure to turn her cellphone off as directed, he doesn’t feel quite so bad. Better yet, Ms. Rosamond sits with him to demonstrate a three-step “Detect-Correct-Reflect” response to messing up and remind him that nobody, child or grown-up, is perfect. For adults who can’t absorb these points from the story, Mulcahy, a professional counselor and psychotherapist, restates them at greater length in smaller type at the end. The default expression in McKee’s cartoon illustrations is fixed, popeyed, and open-mouthed. Zach himself is a light-skinned redhead, but overall the cast displays a range of hair colors and skin tones.

Not simplistic but relentlessly utilitarian. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63198-110-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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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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