The best thing about this book? Its reassuring look back at all the things the happy and successful students have enjoyed...


On graduation day, a patient teacher leads her class through a guessing game about what has been the best thing about kindergarten.

Mrs. Appleby is proud of her class. They’ve made hats and decorations and learned a special song to sing for their parents. But kindergarten is not over quite yet—there is time for one last, and most important, lesson. “Who can guess what is the best thing about kindergarten?” The students come up with lots of good answers—calendar time, the playhouse center, the block corner, arts and crafts time, math time, the writing center, storytime, recess—but none is correct, although Mrs. Appleby kindly reinforces the accomplishments and enjoyment her students have gained from each of these activities. The guessing game is interrupted by the graduation ceremony, which goes without a hitch, the proud students each doing their parts and receiving their diplomas. And at the end, she finally shares the answer: “You, my students, are the best thing about kindergarten.” The hurried, scribbly feel of Leng’s illustrations lend them the busy, hectic reality of a kindergarten classroom, especially on the exciting last day of school. She neatly captures the messiness and creativity that characterize young children, and her kindergarteners are a nice mix of races and genders.

The best thing about this book? Its reassuring look back at all the things the happy and successful students have enjoyed about kindergarten—equally valuable at the beginning and the end of the school year. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-897476-82-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Simply Read

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Skip this well-meaning but poorly executed celebration.


Children point out the things they love about their fathers.

“Daddy is always kind. He gives us support and shelter when things go wrong.” A child with a skinned knee (and downed ice cream cone) gets a bandage and loving pat from Daddy (no shelter is visible, but the child’s concerned sibling sweetly extends their own cone). Daddy’s a storyteller, a magician, supportive, loyal, silly, patient, and he knows everything. A die-cut hole pierces most pages, positioned so that the increasingly smaller holes to come can be seen through it; what it represents in each scene varies, and it does so with also-variable success. The bland, nonrhyming, inconsistent text does little to attract or keep attention, though the die cuts might (until they fall victim to curious fingers). The text also confusingly mixes first-person singular and plural, sometimes on the same page: “Daddy is like a gardener. He lovingly cares for us and watches us grow. I’m his pride and joy!” Even as the text mixes number the illustrations mix metaphors. This particular gardener daddy is pictured shampooing a child during bathtime. Más’ cartoon illustrations are sweet if murkily interpretive, affection clearly conveyed. Troublingly, though, each father and his child(ren) seem to share the same racial presentation and hair color (sometimes even hairstyle!), shutting out many different family constellations. Más does, however, portray several disabilities: children and adults wearing glasses, a child with a cochlear implant, and another using a wheelchair.

Skip this well-meaning but poorly executed celebration. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12305-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A forgettable tale.


Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?