Adorable fun for chapter-book newbies looking for a few giggles.

100 FRIENDS

From the Warren & Dragon series , Vol. 1

In this series debut, a boy learns that when it comes to friends, quality is more important than quantity.

Warren Reginald Nesbitt is moving and will be starting second grade at a new school. The 7-year-old is lucky he has his pet, Dragon, a plush toy who’s real only to him, to help him adjust. Then his outgoing twin sister, Ellie, dares him to make 100 friends before she does. Shy Warren accepts the challenge: “I’m going to make more new friends than you.” But inside, he thinks, in his endearingly honest first-person narration, “I do not say I might not believe what I just said.” Marshmallow-loving Dragon offers Warren friend-making advice: Give a compliment. “You do not smell like rotten pumpkins,” Warren says to classmate Alison. Making new friends may take a while, but it will be worth it. In Book 2, Weekend with Chewy, Warren takes the class hamster home for two days. In addition to performing general pet care, Warren must write a report and keep Chewy safe from mischievous Dragon’s boundless appetite. How will he find the time to build a secret snack-smuggling ramp with his friend Michael? In both the black-and-white artwork and, notably, the text, Warren, his family, and Alison are white; Michael’s two-mom family is black.

Adorable fun for chapter-book newbies looking for a few giggles. (Fiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-425-28844-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE SCHOOLS

From the My Purple World series

A color-themed vision of what school should be like.

In what amounts to a rehash of The World Needs More Purple People (2020), Bell and Hart address adult as well as young readers to explain what “curious and kind you” can do to make school, or for that matter the universe, a better place. Again culminating in the vague but familiar “JUST. BE. YOU!” the program remains much the same—including asking questions both “universe-sized” (“Could you make a burrito larger than a garbage truck?”) and “smaller, people-sized” (i.e., personal), working hard to learn and make things, offering praise and encouragement, speaking up and out, laughing together, and listening to others. In the illustrations, light-skinned, blond-haired narrator Penny poses amid a busy, open-mouthed, diverse cast that includes a child wearing a hijab and one who uses a wheelchair. Wiseman opts to show fewer grown-ups here, but the children are the same as in the earlier book, and a scene showing two figures blowing chocolate milk out of their noses essentially recycles a visual joke from the previous outing. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43490-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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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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