A gentle, feel-good story about the transforming power of friendship and gardening.

READ REVIEW

THE YEAR OF THE GARDEN

From the Anna Wang series

In this prequel to The Year of the Book (2012), Chinese-American Anna Wang explains how she met her friend Laura.

After moving to a new Cincinnati neighborhood, 8-year-old Anna doesn’t have friends nearby or activities to occupy her. When she’s given The Secret Garden and some seeds, Anna thinks about making her own garden. Laura, a white girl also new to the neighborhood, introduces herself, and the girls discover they will both be starting third grade at the same school. Anna suggests they make a garden in her yard, and they begin clearing. Apprehensive about attending a new school, Anna’s pleased Laura’s in her class but declines Laura’s invitation to join the soccer team. Soon gregarious Laura’s too preoccupied with soccer to spend time with quiet Anna, who works alone on her garden, but when Anna finds a baby rabbit in the snow, she turns to Laura for help. By spring, their friendship and Anna’s garden blossom. Anna’s reserved, first-person, present-tense narration reveals her concerns about fitting in. Telling details, as when Laura asks if Anna’s just moved from a “slum,” give readers a sense of Anna’s socio-economic milieu. The parallels she draws between The Secret Garden and her experiences with Laura and the garden add depth to this thoughtful chronicle of adjustment. Delicate spot art highlights key elements.

A gentle, feel-good story about the transforming power of friendship and gardening. (Chinese pronunciation guide) (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-66444-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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 lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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