Though not as distinctive as Clementine, Jules eventually settles, becoming a vulnerable and likable heroine.

STARRING JULES (AS HERSELF)

From the Starring Jules series , Vol. 1

Seven-year-old Jules has been asked to audition for a television commercial. But she needs help. Will she turn to her know-it-all ex-best friend for it?  

Debut author Ain introduces a new chapter-book darling with pizzazz and quite a stage presence. But Jules is in the middle of a mean fight with her former best friend, Charlotte. Charlotte and two other friends went on vacation to a snooty resort together without Jules, leaving her feeling left out from all their newfound sophistication. But with the opportunity of a lifetime four days away, Jules doesn’t have the time to stay angry with Charlotte. With a first-person perspective similar to Junie B. Jones, this list-making little girl’s voice seems forced in places. A catalog of clothing decisions, from overalls covered in red poppies to argyle knee socks sounds nearly logical instead of feeling free-spirited or even youthful. It is also a wee bit disheartening to see such young girls fighting with cable TV–worthy vitriol, with fancy hotel towels and manicures as the cause. The storyline firms up once Grandma Gilda is called and travels to be by Jules’ side. The audition provides great tension with a hilarious outcome that leads to real emotion and a satisfying end.

Though not as distinctive as Clementine, Jules eventually settles, becoming a vulnerable and likable heroine. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-44352-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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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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