From the Junie B., First Grader series

Starting first grade proves to be a challenge for Junie B. Jones, Park’s enduring, irrepressible heroine. Junie B. is having a tough time. Not only is she nervous about starting first grade, but on her very first day of school, Lucille, Junie B.’s best friend from kindergarten, is distinctly aloof. Lucille coolly informs Junie B. that they have “already been best friends” and that now, in the name of fairness, “it’s time for Camille and Chenille to get a turn.” Then Grace, who sat next to Junie B. on the bus every day last year, throws her over for new friend Bobbi Jean Piper, which causes Junie B. to announce that her “bestest friends are dropping like flies.” Throw in “Blabber-lips May” the obnoxious tattletale in the next seat, and it looks to Junie B. like “first grade is a flop.” But Junie B.’s real problem is that she can’t see the blackboard. Luckily, her on-the-ball teacher diagnoses her problem right away, sending her to the school nurse for an eye exam. With good-natured wit, Parks demystifies the process of getting glasses, also paying attention to the embarrassment and self-consciousness kids often feel when they show up at school with a new pair of specs. Although not the most amusing book in the series, fans will be happy to know that despite Junie B.’s ascent to the rigors of first grade, Park’s feisty, funny heroine retains her trademark use of language, mirthful malapropisms, and essential larger-than-life personality. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80293-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2001

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Each time the witch loses something in the windy weather, she and her cat are introduced to a new friend who loves flying on her broom. The fluid rhyming and smooth rhythm work together with one repetitive plot element focusing young attention spans until the plot quickens. (“Is there room on the broom for a blank such as me?”) When the witch’s broom breaks, she is thrown in to danger and the plot flies to the finish. Her friends—cat, dog, frog, and bird—are not likely to scare the dragon who plans on eating the witch, but together they form a formidable, gooey, scary-sounding monster. The use of full-page or even page-and-a-half spreads for many of the illustrations will ensure its successful use in story times as well as individual readings. The wart-nosed witch and her passengers make magic that is sure to please. Effective use of brilliant colors set against well-conceived backgrounds detail the story without need for text—but with it, the story—and the broom—take off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2557-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.


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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