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A delightful tale of fostering connection through art.

A young Korean immigrant makes a new friend while reflecting on an old pal.

Jihun tentatively enters the classroom. “Today is the day I’ll make friends,” the young narrator says. “At least, that’s what I promise myself.” But Jihun’s resolve is shaken when Ms. Alpha explains today’s assignment: “Write a letter to your best friend.” While the other students boast about their many friends, Jihun, who arrived in America just a month ago and has no friends, simply stares at the blank paper. With a gentle push from Ms. Alpha, the protagonist writes the letter O, then reflects on Oto, a gray-and-white cat whom Jihun left behind in Korea. Taking an artistic route, Jihun draws a portrait of Oto using letters: “I write E on its side, like his front legs.” “I swirl an S backward twice, like his tail.” The assignment elicits memories both happy (the two playing together) and sad: Oto’s swishing tail when Jihun waved goodbye to him. Jihun’s classmate Piper notices the portrait and initially warns Jihun to “stop doodling and write.” But eventually Jihun’s artistry intrigues Piper…and leads to a new friendship. Choi’s meditative prose pulses with quiet joys, while the use of softly blended colors brings warmth and charm to the simple cartoons and textured backdrops. Ms. Alpha is brown-skinned, Piper is light-skinned, and the class is diverse.

A delightful tale of fostering connection through art. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 9, 2024

ISBN: 9780374391294

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 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 Growing With Buddy series , Vol. 3

Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient.

How do you make a new friend when an old one moves away?

Buddy (from Sorry, Grown-Ups, You Can’t Go to School, 2019, etc.) is feeling lonely. His best friend just moved across town. To make matters worse, there is a field trip coming up, and Buddy needs a bus partner. His sister, Lady, has some helpful advice for making a new pal: “You just need to find something you have in common.” Buddy loves the game Robo Chargers and karate. Surely there is someone else who does, too! Unfortunately, there isn’t. However, when a new student arrives (one day later) and asks everyone to call her Sunny instead of Alison, Buddy gets excited. No one uses his given name, either; they just call him Buddy. He secretly whispers his “real, official name” to Sunny at lunch—an indication that a true friendship is being formed. The rest of the story plods merrily along, all pieces falling exactly into place (she even likes Robo Chargers!), accompanied by Bowers’ digital art, a mix of spot art and full-bleed illustrations. Friendship-building can be an emotionally charged event in a child’s life—young readers will certainly see themselves in Buddy’s plight—but, alas, there is not much storytelling magic to be found. Buddy and his family are White, Sunny and Mr. Teacher are Black, and Buddy’s other classmates are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-30709-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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