And if readers learn a lesson about humility along the way? That’s just the icing on Unicorn’s flaming birthday cakes.

READ REVIEW

UNICORN IS MAYBE NOT SO GREAT AFTER ALL

Following Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great (2013), the extra-special equine is back for the first day of school, and he’s having trouble with the fact that he doesn’t stand out in the crowd.

Thinking quite highly of himself, Unicorn is confident on the first day, while best friend Goat suffers from “contractually obligated first-day jitters.” But later, their situations are reversed. Unicorn is chagrined that all anyone can focus on are “rubber bands that look like other things” (Shea skewers the decade-old Silly Bandz craze). Unicorn decides to regain the spotlight with a new, improved version of himself: He’ll be a “new-nicorn,” complete with rainbow wig and fake tail, colored contacts, “horn enhancer,” and an attitude and personality to match. His friends’ reactions don’t faze him in the slightest: “Why are you drawn like that?” a pig speculates metafictively. But his narcissism and lack of respect for other people’s space and boundaries mean he tromps (sometimes literally) all over his peers. “Go home, Unicorn!” A depressed and depressing day at home ends with the doorbell: Unicorn’s friends have missed him even though he’s “been super-annoying.” Hysterical side commentary and even funnier details in the cartoon illustrations will keep readers coming back again and again for more of Shea’s irreverent, tongue-in-cheek humor.

And if readers learn a lesson about humility along the way? That’s just the icing on Unicorn’s flaming birthday cakes. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-00944-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The title says it all: Black boys are “every good thing.”

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    finalist

  • New York Times Bestseller

I AM EVERY GOOD THING

A much-needed book for Black children when society demonstrates otherwise.

The Kirkus Prize–, Coretta Scott King Honor–, Newbery Honor–, and Caldecott Honor–winning team behind Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut (2017) return for another celebration of Black excellence. In a text brimming with imagination and Black-boy joy, Barnes lays the foundation for young Black readers to go forth into the world filled with confidence and self-assurance: “I am brave. I am hope. / I am my ancestors’ wildest dream. / I am worthy of success, / of respect, of safety, of kindness, of happiness.” Simultaneously, he opens a window for non-Black readers to see Black boys’ humanity. They have dreams, feel pain, are polite and respectful—the list of qualities goes on. Barnes also decides to address what is waiting for them as they experience the world. “I am not what they might call me.” With this forceful statement, he provides a tool for building Black resilience, reassuring young Black readers that they are not those names. James supplies his customarily painterly art, his brushy oils painting Black boys of every shade of brown playing, celebrating, achieving, aspiring, and loving. Through every stroke readers will see that Black boys are “worthy / to be loved.” (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 35% of actual size.)

The title says it all: Black boys are “every good thing.” (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-51877-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more