With its fun illustrations, this story may inspire young readers to try a little kindness.

THE LITTLE THINGS

A STORY ABOUT ACTS OF KINDNESS

A little girl’s small act of kindness energizes her town into doing the same—with a beautiful, cumulative impact.

After a terrible storm washes “thousands of sea stars” onto the beach, a brown-skinned child with three teal pigtails gets to work. One at a time, the child returns starfish to the ocean, despite the daunting number of stranded creatures. An elderly, White passerby notices her project, and asks, “What’s the point? You won’t be able to save them all.” The intrepid helper’s response sets the tone for the rest of the story: After plunking a single starfish back into the waves, she replies, “Of course I can’t save them all….But I saved that one, didn’t I?” This single show of generosity creates a chain reaction of freshly galvanized townspeople, encouraging one another to help out wherever they can—no matter how seemingly small the overall impact. Examples of these kindnesses include adopting a dog from a shelter full of strays in need of homes after the storm; cleaning up storm debris from a neighbor’s yard, though the storm trashed the entire block; and donating Tooth Fairy funds “to charity.” By the time the starfish-rescuing girl returns to the beach to take up her small mission again, she finds many of her neighbors already on the shore, saving sea stars and picking up litter. In a crowded market of picture books extolling random acts of kindness, illustrator Juanita’s charming images set this story apart. The details of each townsperson’s personality and identity sparkle on the pages, including disabled, Black, queer, and gender-nonconforming characters. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 20.3% of actual size.)

With its fun illustrations, this story may inspire young readers to try a little kindness. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4226-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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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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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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