An exuberant valentine to spring and to gardens in general. As Norman puts it: “Hooray for dirty digging!” (Picture book....

READ REVIEW

A PERFECT DAY FOR DIGGING

The pleasures of getting down and dirty in the garden can be contagious.

“Bye, bye, snow shovel,” crows Nell, trotting out into the muddy yard with her eager dog, Rusty, and a wheelbarrow full of pansies. “Hello, trowel!” Neighbor Norman—bow tie, white shirt, new shoes, fussily combed hair—declines the offer of a trowel of his own, but he lingers to watch as Nell and Rusty enthusiastically make holes and hills and dirt angels. Once Nell discovers a worm, some lost toys and other earthy treasures, his resistance crumbles, and over the fence he comes to help in the joyful construction of a “dirt museum” from pansies, soil, rocks and found prizes. Davenier’s splashy, transparent watercolors don’t quite do justice to the muck’s muckiness (or, sadly, the pansies, which, after posing in a bright row on the copyright page, for the most part just make a pale, indistinct blur in later illustrations) but capture the joy of getting back in (literal) touch with the planet. She also subtly leaves her figures’ ages indeterminate, so that in different scenes, Nell could be seen as Norman’s agemate, older or even an adult.

An exuberant valentine to spring and to gardens in general. As Norman puts it: “Hooray for dirty digging!” (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4706-0

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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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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A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia.

BUNHEADS

A young ballerina takes on her first starring role.

Young Misty has just begun taking ballet when her teacher announces auditions for the classic ballet Coppélia. Misty listens spellbound as Miss Bradley tells the story of the toymaker who creates a doll so lifelike it threatens to steal a boy’s heart away from his betrothed, Swanilda. Paired with a kind classmate, Misty works hard to perfect the steps and wins the part she’s wanted all along: Swanilda. As the book closes, Misty and her fellow dancers take their triumphant opening-night bows. Written in third person, the narrative follows a linear structure, but the storyline lacks conflict and therefore urgency. It functions more as an introduction to Coppélia than anything else, despite the oddly chosen title. Even those unfamiliar with Copeland’s legendary status as the first black principal ballerina for the American Ballet Theatre will predict the trite ending. The illustrations are an attractive combination of warm brown, yellow, and rosy mahogany. However, this combination also obscures variations in skin tone, especially among Misty’s classmates. Misty and her mother are depicted with brown hair and brown skin; Miss Bradley has red hair and pale skin. Additionally, there’s a disappointing lack of body-type diversity; the dancers are depicted as uniformly skinny with extremely long limbs. The precise linework captures movement, yet the humanity of dance is missing. Many ballet steps are illustrated clearly, but some might confuse readers unfamiliar with ballet terminology. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 48% of actual size.)

A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-54764-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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