A cohesive chord that nevertheless rings hollow.

MUSICAL MAC

A talented bug wants to play music but is nervous about taking the stage solo.

To compete in the Soggy Bog Talent Show, Mac the millipede decides to join a band. He grabs his many instruments in his many, many hands and heads out. Mac joins in with each rehearsing group he finds, playing violin with a tiny, antennaed orchestra, blowing his trumpet with some alley cats, and crooning with a bird a cappella group, among others. Each group’s spokesanimal compliments his talents but dismisses the prospective musician. The birds even try to eat him! They scare Mac so much that he runs all the way onto the talent show stage—alone. Then all “his new friends” in the audience—the bands he’s recently met—call out for him to play a different instrument (and “Sorry for trying to eat you!” yells one bird). Mac breathes deeply, then starts playing every instrument at once, embracing his (reader-anticipated) calling to be “his very own ONE MAN BAND!” The text incorporates some playful elements, including some internal rhyme and sequential panels, although its simple story with predictable plot turns provides little beyond the first read-through. All the animal characters, even mammals, are bug-eyed, rendered in saturated colors and placed against detailed backgrounds that provide some visual fodder.

A cohesive chord that nevertheless rings hollow. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4549-3370-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere.

THE QUEEN OF KINDERGARTEN

Barnes and Brantley-Newton team up for a follow-up to The King of Kindergarten (2019).

From the very first page, it’s clear that young MJ Malone is ready to face the world—and school. Once Mom bestows her with a glittery tiara and dubs her the queen of kindergarten, MJ is determined to fulfill her duties—brighten up every room she enters, treat others with kindness, and offer a helping hand. Barnes infuses each page with humor and a sense of grace as the immensely likable MJ makes the most of her first day. Barnes’ prose is entertaining and heartwarming, while Brantley-Newton’s vivid and playful artwork will be easily recognizable for anyone who’s seen her work (Grandma’s Purse, 2018; Becoming Vanessa, 2021). The illustrator adds verve to the bold young heroine’s character—from the colorful barrettes to the textured appearance of her adorable denim jumper, the girl has style and substance. MJ Malone embodies the can-do spirit every parent hopes to spark in their own children, though even shy kindergarteners will gladly find a friend in her. MJ and her family are Black; her classroom is diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 24, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-11142-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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