MAGGIE’S AMERIKAY

An Irish immigrant family scrimps to earn its place in New Orleans in 1898. Because of her peddler father’s belief in education, narrator Maggie stays in school, despite their poverty. When baby Bessie contracts yellow fever, Mam forgoes her sewing work to nurse her. Maggie searches for work, first rolling cigars with other girls for 50 cents a week. A little black boy, to whom Da gave a used cornet, repays her with a job. In Storyville, Maggie writes the dictated memoirs of ex-slave Daddy Clements, and at week’s end, with Bessie recovering, she has two whole dollars to give Da. In another encounter with Nathan, she peeks from the street as he (evoking the young Louis Armstrong) sits in with ragtime musicians, blowing his heart out. Burke’s paintings depict both crowded streetscapes and the emotions of Maggie and those she encounters. In dimly lit compositions, details—shadows cast by pigeons on a wall; steam rising from a bowl of hot water—mesh with the spare yet nuanced text. With deft dialogue and well-chosen phrases, Russell enlivens the period, when the poor competed for jobs, death in childhood was more common than anomalous and a vibrant city gave birth to jazz. (historical note) (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 4, 2006

ISBN: 0-374-34722-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Melanie Kroupa/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2006

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ROOM ON THE BROOM

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.

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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