Both sensitive and sensible: If some dragons can’t be vanquished, with time and help they can be borne.

READ REVIEW

MY BIG, DUMB, INVISIBLE DRAGON

The weight of profound loss looks just like a dragon as it sits atop a grieving child.

“Have you ever seen an invisible dragon?” the unnamed narrator asks, describing how just such a creature came one day out of the blue and changed everything—making it hard to get out of bed, casting heavy shadows, ignoring tantrums and attempts to bargain. Gradually, though, the dragon takes leave for ever longer intervals, and, at last, after a day in the park with a friend and then an eighth birthday party, even when present it seems less oppressive. The nature of the loss is never directly mentioned, but the narrator remarks that “We had to get used to movie night without her famous peanut brittle popcorn,” as the child snuggles disconsolately with a sad-looking adult, and Sif leaves further hints in glimpses of an open photo album and an extra apron in the kitchen. The semitransparent, cartoonish dragon never looks threatening; by the end it has not vanished but shrunk down to a manageable size. Finally, pointing out that the initial question about seeing an invisible dragon was silly, the child closes with a wonderfully perceptive insight: “You can never see one by looking straight at it. You have to look at the person underneath.” The white-presenting child is never gendered.

Both sensitive and sensible: If some dragons can’t be vanquished, with time and help they can be borne. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68364-184-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sounds True

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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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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