A sympathetic exploration of the dance between agency and anxiety in conquering a common childhood fear.

In this Danish import, a child is certain there’s a monster in the attic.

Creepy monster faces and claws border some of the pages, show up in shadows, and are visible to the young narrator when the child’s eyes are closed. Most of the monochromatic settings are rendered in gray-browns. A few details appear in color: the youngster’s pinkish face and ruddy cheeks, small objects. Despite the menacing beasts conjured in the child’s imagination, there are cozy retreats, and although the mother admits that her offspring’s monster drawing is pretty scary, she explains that the overhead noise is just an animal “building a hidey-hole.” Their conversations contain wry humor. When invited to investigate, the child is too busy. “ ‘Busy doing what?’ Mom asks. ‘Something.’ I say.” Ultimately, the protagonist braves the steps to discover a pleasant space with “fun things.” The parent unearths a trumpet to add to the child’s one-man-band attempts to drown out the offending sounds. The concluding garret scene reveals a small pink monster mirroring the pose in the child’s drawing. The creature is wearing a striped shirt, spotted pants, and horned hat, just like the protagonist—food for thought. Birkjær’s portrayal of a supportive mother (who never panders) and Juul’s visual narrative depicting emotional growth in a subtle, inventive manner—starting with the contrasting endpapers—offer a refreshing departure from stories with similar themes. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sympathetic exploration of the dance between agency and anxiety in conquering a common childhood fear. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023

ISBN: 9781945492747

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Transit Books

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2023


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 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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