Would that every student could find a way to combine what they love with their schoolwork.

READ REVIEW

VLAD THE RAD

A vampire who loves to skateboard has to up his game to convince his classmates and teacher that skateboarding can be spooky.

Vlad attends Miss Fussbucket’s School for Aspiring Spooks, which has a very diverse student body that includes a cyclops, a demon, a siren, and an anthropomorphic black cat in addition to other young ghouls and vampire Vlad. None of them share Vlad’s enthusiasm for skateboarding (they call him “Bad Vlad” the show-off), and Vlad just keeps racking up warnings from Miss Fussbucket about skateboarding at school until he earns a detention. As he writes lines on the chalkboard, he wonders why he can’t combine the two things he’s good at to please Miss Fussbucket. Well, the opportunity to do just that comes during the field trip to the natural history museum. Vlad sees the curving backbone of the giant dinosaur skeleton and just can’t resist—and the trick, combined with his screeching and hissing, sends the human museumgoers running away in fright, his classmates and teacher applauding him for being “radically terrifying.” Moldy green with highlights of red and the hot pink of Vlad’s skateboard pop against the more sedate backgrounds of the extremely staid school and pages of negative space. Readers will enjoy the prim-and-proper uniform-clad child monsters.

Would that every student could find a way to combine what they love with their schoolwork. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-553-51345-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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

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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

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