An understated, appealing story with fine integration between the succinct text and imaginative illustrations.

STAR BRIGHT

A CHRISTMAS STORY

This charming addition to the gifts-for-baby-Jesus theme imagines the origin of the bright star shining over Bethlehem at the Nativity.

In a futuristic version of heaven with connecting platforms floating in midair and computer display screens, a little female angel and her angel friends ponder the impending birth of a special baby down on Earth. The youngest angel wears a white suit with a long, white coat complementing her feathery wings and a white aviator’s cap, googles and scarf that give her the look of an early airplane pilot. She wishes she could give something special to the new baby that would be as comforting as wind, rain or music. When the angel notices that the world below her seems dark and lonely, she decides to remedy that as her gift. She soars off a huge diving board, floating down into the dark sky previously lit by only tiny stars, and transforms into an enormous star that illuminates the entire sky and guides the three Wise Men. The story is told with a light touch and few words, and the charismatic little angel’s transformation is a positive development rather than any type of loss. Evocative watercolor illustrations range from imaginative views of heaven with swirls of pink clouds to mysterious, deep purple skies over Bethlehem. Though the protagonist angel is Caucasian, there are darker-skinned angels among the heavenly host.

An understated, appealing story with fine integration between the succinct text and imaginative illustrations. (Picture book/religion. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4169-5858-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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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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