The Class by Boni Ashburn, illustrated by Kimberly Gee (InfoSoup)
A group of twenty children prepare for their first day of Kindergarten in this witty and charming picture book. The book starts with the different ways the children wake up from those who are up early to the grumpy ones to those who want to sleep and sleep. Next comes putting on clothes, then brushing and combing hair, and putting on shoes. Breakfast is next with pancakes or cereal or juice. Backpacks are put on, children catch the bus, are driven to school or walk. Emotions run high. And then finally, all twenty are at school and ready to begin!
Ashburn beautifully combines the normal day routines of children filled with teeth brushing, bathroom and breakfast with the unique things about the first day of Kindergarten like backpacks and having to be ready at a certain time. She also intertwines the emotions of the day with some children unable to sleep, others grumpy throughout, and some tearing up on the way to school. This is a way to show all of the different reactions to school but to also assure children that they are more alike than they may think.
The illustrations by Gee are gentle and cheerful. They capture each child and fill the page with diversity. She is also great at showing the mixed emotions of the day and the variety of reactions that children have. The use of lots of white space allows children to see themselves on the page, talk about what they will have for breakfast, about their nerves and more.
A perfect book to share with children heading to their first day of preschool or Kindergarten whether you are a parent or a teacher. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster.
The Branch by Mireille Messier, illustrated by Pierre Pratt
Released September 6, 2016.
During an ice storm, a little girl is awakened by a loud sound outside. It turns out to be her favorite branch falling from the tree in her yard. It was the branch she played on, dreamed about and that was a big part of her day. The little girl asks to keep the branch after finding out that it can’t be reattached to the tree and her mother agrees. Her neighbor is next door with his chain saw and the girl stands guard so that no one takes her branch. Her neighbor, Mr. Frank, sees her standing there and asks about her branch. He sees “potential” in it and offers to help her make something with it. It turns out to be just the right solution, one that helps the girl remember the fun she had and looks forward to future happiness too.
Messier conveys the little girl’s emotions very clearly. From the feel of the fallen branch to her attachment to it to the importance of creating something new with it. Each moment echoes with emotions, creating a book that is conducive to discussing feelings with young children listening to the story. The book is also anchored in sensations, the feel of the icy branch in her hands, the noise of the chain saw, the hard work of transforming the branch into something else.
The illustrations by Pratt are filled with deep colors that brighten the pages. The beauty and destruction of the ice storm are captured, each branch encased in ice. The change is seasons is also nicely shown, moving from ice and snow to green in the illustrations.
A book about resilience, connections to nature and its power, and the value of memories, this picture book is full of potential itself. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from e-galley received from Kids Can Press and Netgalley.