A skillful reminder that kids can be the bright spots amid their caregivers’ serious worries.

BALLOONS FOR PAPA

A STORY OF HOPE AND EMPATHY

A spot of color pokes through adult gloom in this charming British import.

“Ever since Mama went to the hospital, Papa had lost his smile.” Every day Arthur and Papa visit her, and every day Arthur asks for a balloon. Papa, however, just hurries his young son along, the weight of the world on his shoulders. One, two, three days in a row Arthur tries to convince his father to get a yellow, red, or blue balloon. Each time Papa says no, and the clouds above grow lower and gloomier. Then, one day, Arthur looks out the front door to see five bright balloons bobbing from their tree. Arthur immediately gives them to Papa for Mama in the hospital, a selfless act that reminds his father of the support young children really can provide in tough times. The text reads true, a balm for children and parents going through family difficulties, but the standout star is the art. From the balloon seller’s braids on the top of her head to the stitches on her sweater, meticulous watercolors capture the details that matter; the bright balloons pop (no pun intended) on the page against the wash of gloomy grays. Arthur and his parents present White. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15.4% of actual size.)

A skillful reminder that kids can be the bright spots amid their caregivers’ serious worries. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-308113-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Intended as an amusing parody, this groans with outdated irrelevance and immaturity.

GOLDIE'S GUIDE TO GRANDCHILDING

While spending the day with Grandpa, young Goldie offers tips on the care and keeping of grandparents.

Though “loyal and loving,” Goldie’s grandfather proves to be quite a character. At Grandparents Day at school, his loud greeting and incessant flatulence are embarrassing, but Goldie is confident that he—and all grandparents—can be handled with the “right care and treatment.” The young narrator notes that playtime should involve the imagination rather than technology—“and NO video games. It’s just too much for them.” Goldie observes that grandparents “live on a diet of all the things your parents tell them are bad for them” but finds that Grandpa’s favorite fast-food restaurant does make for a great meal out. The narrator advises that it’s important for grandparents to get plenty of exercise; Grandpa’s favorite moves include “the Bump, the Hustle, and the Funky Chicken.” The first-person instruction and the artwork—drawn in a childlike scrawl—portray this grandfather in a funny, though unflattering, stereotypical light as he pulls quarters from Goldie’s ears, burps on command, and invites Goldie to pull his finger. Goldie’s grandfather seems out of touch with today’s more tech-savvy and health-oriented older people who are eager to participate with their grandchildren in contemporary activities. Though some grandparent readers may chuckle, kids may wonder how this mirrors their own relationships. Goldie and Grandpa are light-skinned; Goldie’s classmates are diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Intended as an amusing parody, this groans with outdated irrelevance and immaturity. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-24932-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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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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