A gentle and accessible story of tolerance during a war overflowing with racial and ethnic intolerance.

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A SCARF FOR KEIKO

An act of kindness during World War II still resonates today as a boy reaches out to a girl whom the government does not consider a suitable or loyal American citizen.

The United States has entered World War II, and Sam’s class in Los Angeles is knitting socks for soldiers. Unfortunately, Sam cannot get his knitting needles to work properly as he tries to knit for his older brother, who is fighting overseas. Frustrated, he rejects an offer of help from his neighbor and classmate, Keiko, a girl of Japanese descent. Keiko is taunted and her father’s flower store is vandalized, and then the family is sent to an internment camp. Sam and his parents are sympathetic—as Jews they understand persecution—and his mother offers to keep safe Keiko’s mother’s treasured tea service. When Keiko leaves her bike with Sam, she includes knitted socks for Sam’s brother. It is then—finally—that Sam comes up with a most neighborly gesture: He will knit a scarf for Keiko because desert nights can be cold. Carefully, stitch by stitch, he finishes his project. The illustrations, in browns, greys, and reds, focus on the faces of the characters and express their frustrations, fears, and concerns. The author’s note briefly explains both President Roosevelt’s 1942 Executive Order and the 1988 Civil Liberties Act.

A gentle and accessible story of tolerance during a war overflowing with racial and ethnic intolerance. (author’s note, photographs) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2164-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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 predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia.

BUNHEADS

A young ballerina takes on her first starring role.

Young Misty has just begun taking ballet when her teacher announces auditions for the classic ballet Coppélia. Misty listens spellbound as Miss Bradley tells the story of the toymaker who creates a doll so lifelike it threatens to steal a boy’s heart away from his betrothed, Swanilda. Paired with a kind classmate, Misty works hard to perfect the steps and wins the part she’s wanted all along: Swanilda. As the book closes, Misty and her fellow dancers take their triumphant opening-night bows. Written in third person, the narrative follows a linear structure, but the storyline lacks conflict and therefore urgency. It functions more as an introduction to Coppélia than anything else, despite the oddly chosen title. Even those unfamiliar with Copeland’s legendary status as the first black principal ballerina for the American Ballet Theatre will predict the trite ending. The illustrations are an attractive combination of warm brown, yellow, and rosy mahogany. However, this combination also obscures variations in skin tone, especially among Misty’s classmates. Misty and her mother are depicted with brown hair and brown skin; Miss Bradley has red hair and pale skin. Additionally, there’s a disappointing lack of body-type diversity; the dancers are depicted as uniformly skinny with extremely long limbs. The precise linework captures movement, yet the humanity of dance is missing. Many ballet steps are illustrated clearly, but some might confuse readers unfamiliar with ballet terminology. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 48% of actual size.)

A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-54764-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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