One of those modest efforts that throws off more light than one might expect from the humble glow of its parts.

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DRAGONS

FATHER AND SON

Drake the young dragon learns that tradition has two sides, and only one is buttered.

Drake lives with his father, a blustering, flame-belching, butterball-bellied bully in a wife-beater, who has decided that it’s time that Drake “behaved like a real dragon” and “burn a few houses.” “But why?” Drake wonders. “It’s tradition!” Flying over the village in search of a suitable house to immolate, Drake espies a perfect wooden target. Just as he is working up a head of steam, a boy runs out, and they quickly bond over the strictures of parents. “And if you don’t do what he says, will you be told off?” The boy suggests an alternative: the schoolhouse. The students disarm Drake with their admiration, however, and so it goes at each new venue: something intervenes to forestall Drake’s scorched-earth tradition. Lacroix’s narrative is modestly wordy for a picture book but not aimlessly so, and the storyline has a pleasingly low-key humor that neatly displays the blinkered side of tradition. The design of the book, along with Badel’s illustrations—two-page spreads in which a complete page of elegantly wonky watercolor artwork bleeds into the opposite text page—gives the story an exceptional sense of flow. Drake is pudgily adorable, and the humans (all evidently white) have a Quentin Blake–esque air to them.

One of those modest efforts that throws off more light than one might expect from the humble glow of its parts. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-910277-25-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Words & Pictures

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

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THE DAY YOU BEGIN

School-age children encounter and overcome feelings of difference from their peers in the latest picture book from Woodson.

This nonlinear story centers on Angelina, with big curly hair and brown skin, as she begins the school year with a class share-out of summer travels. Text and illustrations effectively work together to convey her feelings of otherness as she reflects on her own summer spent at home: “What good is this / when others were flying,” she ponders while leaning out her city window forlornly watching birds fly past to seemingly faraway places. López’s incorporation of a ruler for a door, table, and tree into the illustrations creatively extends the metaphor of measuring up to others. Three other children—Rigoberto, a recent immigrant from Venezuela; a presumably Korean girl with her “too strange” lunch of kimchi, meat, and rice; and a lonely white boy in what seems to be a suburb—experience more-direct teasing for their outsider status. A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference.

A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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