Review of The Queen of Kindergarten

The Queen of Kindergarten The Queen of Kindergarten
by Derrick Barnes; illus. by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Preschool, Primary    Paulsen/Penguin    32 pp.    g
5/22    978-0-593-11142-0    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-593-11143-7    $10.99

This companion to The King of Kindergarten (rev. 9/19) stars MJ Malone, all ready to go in her first-day-of-school outfit (polka dots, denim, and stripes), with rainbow-colored hair bands on freshly done braids, and her mom’s sparkly tiara: “I wore this on my first day of school…But today—you will become the Queen of Kindergarten.” According to MJ’s conversational first-person text, queenly behaviors include: kindness, caring, and helpfulness, all traits that she displays throughout the school day. More outgoing and self-confident than some of her classmates, MJ gives a new friend a comforting hand-squeeze, helps tidy up the classroom—shown in Brantley-Newton’s friendly, colorful, textured illustrations as a most appealing, child-centric place to be—and chooses a familiar storytime read-aloud about “a boy getting a royal haircut” (Barnes’s Crown, rev. 11/17). Back at home, MJ shares her “perfect” first day with her loving family members, eager to hear all about it, and then she gets ready for bed—still sporting the tiara. There’s no royal drama; from beginning to end, this matter-of-factly reassuring first-day-of-kindergarten story depicts a supportive family, a self-confident protagonist, an expert teacher, and new friends—all set to have a great school year.

From the July/August 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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