Just doesn’t compare to Shelley Moore Thomas and Jennifer Plecas’ similarly themed Get Well, Good Knight (2002) or even to...

SICK DAY

From the I Like To Read series

A sick boy’s devoted friends try to help him feel better.

Dog lies on Boy’s feet to help him get warm, then shares his bone with him. (Boy eats his mom’s chicken soup instead.) Bird comes calling, but Dog tells him Boy is sick, and he flies off, returning with a slice of pizza to help him get well. (Boy doesn’t eat that either.) Feeling better the next day, Boy and Dog head to the tree house and find Bird sick (too much pizza). At this point, the minimalist story devolves even further, losing the slight humor of the first part. “Boy and Dog sit with Bird. // Then Bird is fine. / But Dog is sick.…Boy and Bird sit with Dog. // Then they nap. / Dog jumps up. ‘I am fine,’ he says.” Upon which, the three happily play together with a ball. Unlike its precursor, Boy, Bird, and Dog (2011), this one feels (and reads) like a Dick and Jane primer, stilted language, thin plot and all. McPhail’s ink-and-watercolor artwork depicts the three friends in the softly colored, rounded vignettes on each page that, along with the 64 simple words and short sentences, help those new to reading decode the words.

Just doesn’t compare to Shelley Moore Thomas and Jennifer Plecas’ similarly themed Get Well, Good Knight (2002) or even to the trio’s prior adventure. (Early reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2424-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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An interesting premise but the execution is underwhelming.

STELLA KEEPS THE SUN UP

Stella hates going to bed, so she and her best buddy attempt to prevent the sun from setting.

Imaginative Stella, a young Black girl with Afro puffs, misses her friend Kamrynn, a light-skinned, straight-haired girl who has moved to “the other side of the world.” Luckily, Stella still has her best pal Roger, a blue hippo stuffie. Neither Stella nor Roger like sleeping: “Why do we have to miss all the fun and go to bed just because it gets dark?” Deciding that “if it never gets dark, then we can stay awake forever,” the duo work tirelessly to “keep the sun awake.” They play loud music, shine flashlights at the sun, and even make various attempts to launch a cup of coffee up to the celestial orb in hopes that caffeine will keep it alert. Eventually, the pair quit when they realize that if the sun never sets for them, morning can never come for Kamrynn, who wakes up when they go to bed. Despite the book’s sweet touches, the narrative is weakened by some meandering irrelevancies that make the plot feel disconnected. Also, at the beginning of the story, Stella seems enamored of the moon—she wishes she could jump high enough to kiss it—yet she and Roger spend the bulk of the book trying to prevent nightfall; this discrepancy may give some readers pause. The digital, cartoonlike illustrations are bright, colorful, and cheerful but don’t make up for the shaky plotting.

An interesting premise but the execution is underwhelming. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-8785-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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A full-hearted valentine.

THIS IS A SCHOOL

A soaring panegyric to elementary school as a communal place to learn and grow.

“This is a kid,” Schu begins. “This is a kid in a class. This is a class in a hall….” If that class—possibly second graders, though they could be a year to either side of that—numbers only about a dozen in Jamison’s bright paintings, it makes up for that in diversity, with shiny faces of variously brown or olive complexion well outnumbering paler ones; one child using a wheelchair; and at least two who appear to be Asian. (The adult staff is likewise racially diverse.) The children are individualized in the art, but the author’s narrative is addressed more to an older set of readers as it runs almost entirely to collective nouns and abstract concepts: “We share. We help. / This is a community, growing.” Younger audiences will zero in on the pictures, which depict easily recognizable scenes of both individual and collective learning and play, with adults and classmates always on hand to help out or join in. Signs of conflict are unrealistically absent, but an occasional downcast look does add a bit of nuance to the general air of eager positivity on display. A sad face at an apartment window with a comment that “[s]ometimes something happens, and we can’t all be together” can be interpreted as an oblique reference to pandemic closings, but the central message here is that school is a physical space, not a virtual one, where learning and community happen. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A full-hearted valentine. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0458-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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