Enthralling, uplifting: a celebration of everyday heroes’ journeys in the quest for education and learning.

MY FIRST DAY

A child braves floodwaters and embarks on an adventure.

The Mekong Delta is home to the young Vietnamese narrator anticipating a big day: “I wake up with the sun creeping into the sky and wait for tide and time to bring to me my little open boat.” Venturing on a familiar trip—yet alone for the first time—the child stands and paddles into the waves, steadied by a backpack, cautious confidence, and words of parental encouragement. Panoramic illustrations with the feel of animation create a magical cinematic effect that renders scenery and motion through multiple perspectives, capturing atmospheric weather patterns and magnificent tropical flora and fauna—some highly dangerous and threatening. The self-aware text draws astute metaphoric parallels between the landscape and the classroom the child journeys to. Anxiety over “a thousand” prying eyes and “scary” places dissipates as courage and knowledge prompt the child to “turn the unfamiliar into family...write my name across the blackboard of the river.” Sumptuously textured landscapes detailing lotuses and inky swells create vivid contrasts while reminding viewers of the ecosystem’s fragile balance. This solo voyage concludes as the child approaches the school on dry land, greeted by friendly water buffalo “galumphing near the shore” and other children, many with gap-toothed smiles that match the narrator’s. The book closes with further information about the Mekong River and its delta. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Enthralling, uplifting: a celebration of everyday heroes’ journeys in the quest for education and learning. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30626-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Make Me a World

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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This earnest Latino first-grader who overcomes obstacles and solves mysteries is a winning character

PEDRO, FIRST-GRADE HERO

From the Pedro series , Vol. 1

The creators of the Katie Woo series turn their focus to a peripheral character, first-grader Pedro—Katie’s friend and schoolmate.

Four short chapters—“Pedro Goes Buggy,” “Pedro’s Big Goal,” “Pedro’s Mystery Club,” and “Pedro For President”—highlight a Latino main character surrounded by a superbly diverse cast. At times unsure of himself, Pedro is extremely likable, for he wants to do his best and is a fair friend. He consistently comes out on top, even when his younger brother releases all the bugs he’s captured for a class assignment or when self-assured bully Roddy tries to unite opposition to Pedro’s female opponent (Katie Woo) in the race for first-grade class president. Using a third-person, past-tense narrative voice, Manushkin expands her repertoire by adding a hero comparable to EllRay Jakes. What is refreshing about the book is that for the most part, aside from Roddy’s gender-based bullying, the book overcomes boy-girl stereotypes: girls and boys play soccer, boys and girls run for president, girls and boys hunt for bugs, all setting a progressive standard for chapter books. With mixed-media illustrations featuring colorful bugs, soccer action, a mystery hunt, and a presidential campaign, Lyon’s attention to detail in color and facial expressions complements the story nicely.

This earnest Latino first-grader who overcomes obstacles and solves mysteries is a winning character . (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5158-0112-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Picture Window Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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PUG BLASTS OFF

From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 1

A cuddly, squishy pug’s puggy-wuggy diary.

Equipped with both #pugunicorn and #pughotdog outfits, pug Baron von Bubbles (aka Bub) is the kind of dog that always dresses to impress. Bub also makes lots of memorable faces, such as the “Hey, you’re not the boss of me!” expression aimed at Duchess, the snooty pink house cat. Some of Bub’s favorite things include skateboarding, a favorite teddy, and eating peanut butter. Bub also loves Bella, who adopted Bub from a fair—it was “love at first sniff.” Together, Bub and Bella do a lot of arts and crafts. Their latest project: entering Bella’s school’s inventor challenge by making a super-duper awesome rocket. But, when the pesky neighborhood squirrel, Nutz, makes off with Bub’s bear, Bub accidentally ruins their project. How will they win the contest? More importantly, how will Bella ever forgive him? May’s cutesy, full-color cartoon art sets the tone for this pug-tastic romp for the new-to–chapter-books crowd. Emojilike faces accentuate Bub’s already expressive character design. Bub’s infectious first-person narration pushes the silly factor off the charts. In addition to creating the look and feel of a diary, the lined paper helps readers follow the eight-chapter story. Most pages have fewer than five sentences, often broken into smaller sections. Additional text appears in color-coded speech bubbles. Bella presents white.

Totes adorbs. (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53003-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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