A loving and forceful reminder that Keats’ Peter is our Peter—always.

A POEM FOR PETER

THE STORY OF EZRA JACK KEATS AND THE CREATION OF THE SNOWY DAY

A love letter to the man who gave readers the beautiful and enduring image of a black boy in a red hooded snowsuit.

Pinkney, an African-American Brooklynite and a child of the 1960s, uses free verse to tell the story of the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland who settled in Brooklyn. Jacob Ezra Katz attended local schools, served in the Army during World War II, and loved to draw. He famously saw a series of photographs in Life magazine of a little black child and saved them for many years until the creation of A Snowy Day, which was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1963. Katz, who changed his name to Keats to avoid anti-Semitism, went on to feature Peter, that “brown-sugar boy in a blanket of white,” in several more ever popular stories. Fancher and Johnson’s collage art is a homage to Keats’, re-creating images from his books and fashioning scenes of Keats’ own Brooklyn neighborhood. Those who love Peter (and who does not?) will relish the illustrations, particularly that of Keats holding hands with Peter under a snow-dappled tree. More to the point, Pinkney lets readers know what Peter meant and still means as a milestone in inclusive children’s literature. “He brought a world of white / suddenly alive with color.”

A loving and forceful reminder that Keats’ Peter is our Peter—always. (author’s notes, Keats bibliography, resources, photographs) (Picture book/poetry/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-425-28768-2

Page Count: 60

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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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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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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