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

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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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Looking for a spud-tacular read? Starch here.

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THE COUCH POTATO

Can a couch potato peel themself off their beloved, comfortable couch?

John and Oswald’s titular spud certainly finds it very hard to do so. Why should they leave their “comfy, cozy couch” when everything that’s needed is within reach? Their doodads and gadgets to amuse and entertain, their couch’s extendable gloved hands to grab food from the kitchen, and screens upon screens to watch their favorite TV shows (highlights: MadYam, Fries), play their favorite video games, and livestream their friends. Where’s the need to leave the living room? Then…“PEW-WWWWWWW”! The electricity goes out one day. Left without screens and gizmos, the couch potato decides to take dog Tater “for a walk…outside,” where the trees and birds and skies seem rich, “like a high-resolution 156-inch curved screen, but even more realistic.” The outdoor experience proves cathartic and freeing, away from those cords that bind, liberating enough to commit this couch potato to spending more time off the couch. Similar to The Bad Seed (2017), The Good Egg (2019), and The Cool Bean (2019) in small-scale scope and moral learning, this latest guidebook to life retains John’s attention to textual goodness, balancing good-humored laughs with a sincere conversational tone that immediately pulls readers in. Naturally, Oswald’s succinct artwork—loaded with genial spuds, metatextual nods, and cool aloofness—continues this loose series’ winsome spirit. No counterarguments here, couch potatoes. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 65.9% of actual size.)

Looking for a spud-tacular read? Starch here. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-295453-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 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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