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Lesley Jones for Readers’ Favorite

Carliss Maddox's #thebuildup: 12 Daily Affirmations for Young Boys of Color covers the important subject of self-belief and how this can be improved with simple daily affirmations. In today's society, children have high expectations of themselves when they are very young, and through media, parents or teachers, this confidence can be slowly eradicated bit by bit. Children must be encouraged to believe that anything is possible, that they live in a world of great opportunity, and the color of their skin is not a barrier to their destiny. They are smart, special, strong and can do anything. This book will encourage the children of today to bring greatness into their lives and in turn motivate other children to follow their lead.

This book is short but the message to young readers is powerful. Children, but especially those of color, are brought up in a society where everyone around them, including the media, tells them that they are second-class citizens, that they must be happy with a mediocre existence. For children to see that greatness is possible, that their dreams can become a reality is a fantastic concept. This book does that and more. The affirmations are perfect and should be available to all children everywhere, from schools to libraries and youth clubs. Children will learn to have a positive mindset and to strive for whatever they want. With the help of this book, they will have the confidence to reach for the stars and build the future they deserve. Fantastic work by this author. @readersfavorite

Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite

Firstgarten is a children’s picture book written by Carliss Maddox and illustrated by Steve Feldman. The first day of school had finally arrived, but Michael was not at all happy about being a first grader. He had loved kindergarten and thought it would be much better if he could continue going to kindergarten instead of first grade. His mother tried to explain that he was ready to take the next step in his education, which was being a first grader, but Michael was not at all convinced. What about being in Firstgarten? he wondered. Why can’t I do both? Michael’s mom was getting a bit impatient with her son. She just didn’t understand what his problem was. But Michael, you see, loved his kindergarten teacher, Ms. Smith, and he loved the things they did in kindergarten, like painting, dancing, drawing and singing. How could first grade be anywhere near as much fun as that? When his mom brought him to his first grade class, his new teacher, Ms. Green, bent down to give him a hug, but Michael was more concerned about where he was. Was this firstgarten? Where are the tables? Where are the paints and art supplies? Michael wasn’t at all pleased with sitting at his own desk with the other first graders, and any time he had the opportunity to rejoin Ms. Smith’s kindergarten class, he made sure to join them.

Carliss Maddox’s children’s picture book, Firstgarten, is a charming and humorous tale about a little boy who loved kindergarten. Even the most confident kid facing the first day of first grade probably shares some of Michael’s fears and concerns over the new experience of being a first grader. Maddox’s story is an excellent way to approach the subject of both kindergarten and first grade, and Steve Feldman’s illustrations work perfectly with the plot. Each panel shows Michael as he is alternately with his first grade class and with Ms. Smith’s kindergartners. By the conclusion of the story, both Michael and young readers will be reassured that first grade will be just as much fun as kindergarten was, in fact, it might even be better. Firstgarten is a grand selection for story time and it’s most highly recommended. @readersfavorite

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