A suitable guide to start the conversation about gun violence with children.

SOMETHING HAPPENED IN OUR PARK

STANDING TOGETHER AFTER GUN VIOLENCE

A young boy deals with anxiety centered on gun violence in his community.

When Miles’ father sits him and his brother down to inform them that their cousin Keisha—who’s been living with them while she attends college—has been shot and wounded during a concert at the neighborhood park, he starts to panic. Lost in this newfound worry, Miles begins to have trouble focusing in school, and his latest drawings have his teacher worried. Miles’ parents do their best to reassure him that although their neighborhood isn’t always safe, there are plenty of reasons why they shouldn’t move. As Miles’ family begins to move on, Miles is still battling his anxiety. One day, Keisha tells the family about the community efforts her friends are involved with to prevent more gun violence, prompting Miles’ parents to help. After seeing the results of his parents’ efforts at the park, Miles is compelled to inspire others with his unique set of skills. This simply stated story and the note to readers—chock-full of helpful prompts—could be useful to caregivers looking to help children through trauma. Although the majority of characters are Black, and their names are stereotypical, the authors clear up misconceptions by citing the disproportionate circumstances that lead to increases in community violence. Illustrations are reminiscent of newspaper comic strips, with wobbly lined color sketches that young artists would be inclined to replicate. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 40.3% of actual size.)

A suitable guide to start the conversation about gun violence with children. (Picture book. 6-11)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3521-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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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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