Combining the amazement offered by the natural world with an unconventional and poignant dose of social commentary, this...

WHERE'S RODNEY?

Can-never-sit-still Rodney really wants to be outside, but it seems the world conspires against his urges—but now, Rodney finally makes it outside, “more outside than [he’s] ever been before.”

This book neatly nestles itself among recent trends of growing engagement with African-American populations within our national parks, as well as offering a measured response to the ways black boys may struggle with school cultures that enforce seated obedience over genuine curiosity. We all know Rodney. He’s a smart kid who follows his innate impulses, well enough to further his interest in the wonders of the world. The text allows readers to decide the thorny question of whether Rodney is worthy of an ADHD diagnosis. Because what happens when Rodney finally makes it outside on a class field trip to a park that puts him directly in contact with nature? He’s high, he’s low, and he’s everywhere in between as his natural impulses to explore and discover lead to a calm, “majestic” conclusion. Cooper’s signature style captures Rodney’s fidgetiness indoors and his growing excitement as the school bus rumbles out of town. In the park, a sequence of spectacular double-page sequences places Rodney within the park’s many wonders, and readers can see clearly how this immersion in nature allows the boy to be exactly himself.

Combining the amazement offered by the natural world with an unconventional and poignant dose of social commentary, this story gives more to its readers than what meets the eye. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-930238-73-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Yosemite Conservancy

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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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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This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking.

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EYES THAT KISS IN THE CORNERS

A young Chinese American girl sees more than the shape of her eyes.

In this circular tale, the unnamed narrator observes that some peers have “eyes like sapphire lagoons / with lashes like lace trim on ballgowns,” but her eyes are different. She “has eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.” Author Ho’s lyrical narrative goes on to reveal how the girl’s eyes are like those of other women and girls in her family, expounding on how each pair of eyes looks and what they convey. Mama’s “eyes sparkl[e] like starlight,” telling the narrator, “I’m a miracle. / In those moments when she’s all mine.” Mama’s eyes, the girl observes, take after Amah’s. While she notes that her grandmother’s eyes “don’t work like they used to,” they are able to see “all the way into my heart” and tell her stories. Here, illustrator Ho’s spreads bloom with references to Chinese stories and landscapes. Amah’s eyes are like those of the narrator’s little sister. Mei-Mei’s eyes are filled with hope and with admiration for her sister. Illustrator Ho’s textured cartoons and clever use of light and shadow exude warmth and whimsy that match the evocative text. When the narrator comes to describe her own eyes and acknowledges the power they hold, she is posed against swirling patterns, figures, and swaths of breathtaking landscapes from Chinese culture. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80.5% of actual size.)

This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291562-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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