At his first day at his new preschool, Dmitri was very excited. He sat next to Liam, rested his head on Liam’s shoulder and told him, “I love you.” Liam didn’t know how to respond, so he didn’t say anything. Outside, Dmitri told a group of girls that he loved them. They blushed and ran off. Dmitri hugged a tree, told it that he loved it, and then told the same to the ants on the ground. At lunchtime, he told the lunch lady that he loved her too, though she was certain he meant he loved her cooking. All afternoon, Dmitri told different objects and people that he loved them. But the next morning, Dmitri didn’t want to go back since no one had said that they loved him too. His mother pointed out that people show love in lots of different ways, and Dmitri’s second day showed exactly that!
This picture book glows with lots of love showered on everyone by Dmitri. While it makes them feel awkward and likely will make the reader feel that way too, Dmitri means it each and every time. The satisfaction of the second day at school is profound as Dmitri is welcomed by all of the people who had perhaps turned away from him the day before. They may not be saying they love him but in all sorts of actions, they show it to him.
The illustrations are done in a vibrant mixed media. They depict a very diverse preschool filled with children of all skin tones and teachers of different faiths. The preschool is full of bright colors, activities and marvelous messes that make it feel very welcoming and familiar.
For all of us who wear our hearts right out in the air. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Candlewick Press.
The author of Eventown returns with another book showing how children can see beyond the social façade to what is actually happening. Rose is the daughter of the most famous and successful magic capturer in her town, which is the most magical in the world. She has grown up as “Little Luck” knowing that she is the one who will be the one to carry on her father’s legacy, unlike her older brother. She spends her days going barefoot despite the cold, practicing by catching fireflies, and wearing her father’s sweaters and scarves. But all is not quite right in her family, and deep down Rose knows it. The entire family tiptoes around her father’s expectations, making sure they are perfect and happy all of the time. So when New Year’s Day finally comes, Rose just knows she will be the best at finding the magic, but she isn’t. In fact, she just gets one little jar of magic. Now Rose’s father won’t speak to her, her previous friends mock her and ignore her, and everything has changed. Rose has a strange new freedom, accompanied by a new friend who doesn’t use magic, where she can start to see what is really going on not just with magic and her town, but in her family as well.
Haydu moves smoothly into full fantasy with this latest novel for middle grades. She laces magic throughout a world that looks much like our own, adding glitter, rainbows and wonder. She manages to take readers through the same process that Rose goes through, dazzled at first by the magic around them, then questioning it, and finally seeing beyond it to the marvels of the real world beneath.
Haydu’s depiction of Rose’s father is particularly haunting: a man who himself is all glitter with real issues not quite hidden by the magic that surrounds him. His anger, insistence and control are all revealed steadily through the book, alarm bells that grow louder and steadier as it progresses. Rose is a great protagonist, raised to believe herself the most special of all, fallen from that pedestal and able to lift herself to a new place based on reality and her own resilience.
A great fantasy read that asks deep questions about magic, control and freedom. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Katherine Tegen Books.