A thoughtful, age-appropriate discussion of decision-making that could well become a favorite.

READ REVIEW

THE FAVORITE BOOK

Using fewer than 200 words and soft watercolor, pen, and ink illustrations, Murguia creates a safe place for a child-centered conversation about decision-making.

“How do you choose a favorite, a best?” the text inquires. “Do you examine, determine, inspect, / measure, and weigh before you select?” Or are you “the sort who follows your heart?” Maybe “you follow along and go with your friends? / Or are you the type who starts your own trends?” Young readers will see themselves in the everyday decisions pondered by characters about a favorite color, pet, sweet treat, and activity with friends. Imagine choosing a hat that’s “the real you” from among a headdress of peacock feathers, a royal fascinator decorated with a dove, a castle-shaped turban, a gardener’s hat (complete with a shy groundhog), and others. Or, empoweringly, deciding to skip the reptile house at the zoo because reptiles aren’t your favorite. Could having more than one favorite be the best choice? It might. This quiet conversation closes with realistic, hopeful messages: “A favorite can change…if you re-select,” and “there are so many things in this world you can love.” The primary cast of children depicted consists of two black kids and three white ones, the whimsical scenarios they star in easy to interpret and sometimes gently Seussian.

A thoughtful, age-appropriate discussion of decision-making that could well become a favorite. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0446-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Aims high but falls flat.

WILD SYMPHONY

Through 20 short poems, Maestro Mouse invites readers to meet a series of animals who have lessons to impart and a symphony to perform.

Brown, author of The DaVinci Code (2003) and other wildly popular titles for adults, here offers young listeners a poetry collection accompanied by music: a “symphony” performed, for readers equipped with an audio device and an internet connection, by the Zagreb Festival Orchestra. From the introduction of the conductor and the opening “Woodbird Welcome” to the closing “Cricket Lullaby,” the writer/composer uses poems made of three to eight rhyming couplets, each line with four strong beats, to introduce the animals who will be revealed in the final double gatefold as the players in an all-animal orchestra. Each poem also contains a lesson, reinforced by a short message (often on a banner or signpost). Thus, “When life trips them up a bit, / Cats just make the best of it” concludes the poem “Clumsy Kittens,” which is encapsulated by “Falling down is part of life. The best thing to do is get back on your feet!” The individual songs and poems may appeal to the intended audience, but collectively they don’t have enough variety to be read aloud straight through. Nor does the gathering of the orchestra provide a narrative arc. Batori’s cartoon illustrations are whimsically engaging, however. They include puzzles: hard-to-find letters that are said to form anagrams of instrument names and a bee who turns up somewhere in every scene.

Aims high but falls flat. (Complete composition not available for review.) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12384-3

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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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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