Readers will root for Isabel and her colorful new beginning.

ISABEL AND HER COLORES GO TO SCHOOL

A first-day-of-school story steeped in vibrant imagery.

Isabel is anxious about her first day at Honeytree Elementary. Isabel speaks Spanish and doesn’t understand much English—she is scared of everything that could go wrong. Mami encourages her to be brave, and Isabel joins the class even though the swirl of language in her new classroom sounds harsh to her ears. Isabel compares the sound of English to the cold and stormy hues of her blue and white crayons, and Spanish to the more inviting pinks, yellows, and purples. A friendly student welcomes Isabel, but they have a hard time connecting across their language differences. Coloring time brings Isabel comfort and the realization that she might have a strategy for talking to her new friend that doesn’t require language at all. Isabel finds hope, and the English that surrounds her begins to sound less intimidating. Spanish words punctuate the English narrative throughout, and the full text of the story in Spanish is included on each page in a bright box. True to the title of the book, the pages are filled with colorful and inviting illustrations. Isabel and Mami have brown skin and curly hair, and her new friend presents Black; Isabel’s teacher and other classmates are racially diverse. This story affirms the experiences of English language learners while encouraging empathy for others. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Readers will root for Isabel and her colorful new beginning. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5341-1063-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE SCHOOLS

From the My Purple World series

A color-themed vision of what school should be like.

In what amounts to a rehash of The World Needs More Purple People (2020), Bell and Hart address adult as well as young readers to explain what “curious and kind you” can do to make school, or for that matter the universe, a better place. Again culminating in the vague but familiar “JUST. BE. YOU!” the program remains much the same—including asking questions both “universe-sized” (“Could you make a burrito larger than a garbage truck?”) and “smaller, people-sized” (i.e., personal), working hard to learn and make things, offering praise and encouragement, speaking up and out, laughing together, and listening to others. In the illustrations, light-skinned, blond-haired narrator Penny poses amid a busy, open-mouthed, diverse cast that includes a child wearing a hijab and one who uses a wheelchair. Wiseman opts to show fewer grown-ups here, but the children are the same as in the earlier book, and a scene showing two figures blowing chocolate milk out of their noses essentially recycles a visual joke from the previous outing. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43490-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE PEOPLE

A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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