FLY!

A lonely boy discovers a world of friendship on his apartment building’s roof. Jawanza is not allowed to play outside, so he spends his time looking out his window at the pigeons flying. He expresses his frustration by yelling at them, but an “old man with stick fingers” puts him in his place from the rooftop: “Can y’all believe that Mr. Joe-wanza, talking loud at you people because you’re flying? What are y’all supposed to be doing—swimming?” Jawanza investigates the rooftop to find that Mr. Roderick Jackson Montgomery the Three and his pigeons have a whole world unto themselves under the sky—a world and language that “Mr. Three” teaches Jawanza to appreciate. Myers (Wings, 2000, etc.) once again explores the ideas of friendship and flight as liberating metaphor. The watercolor illustrations employ a warm palette of yellows and oranges, with bright blue skies; the figures of Jawanza and Mr. Roderick Jackson Montgomery the Three are elongated and bend into elegant curves that mimic the swoops of the pigeons’ flight. Jawanza’s sadness at the beginning is palpable, as is his emerging joy as he learns the “pigeon dance.” The old man’s distinctive voice is pure delight: “The problem with you now, Mr. Joe-wanza, is that you’re too hurry-hurry to make the friends you’re going to have. You got to take time with these new friends.” The text as a whole, however, is overlong for a story with as little real action as this one; it bogs down from time to time in the details, and perhaps Mr. Roderick Jackson Montgomery the Three’s delightful voice runs a little out of control. It is, nevertheless, a beautiful exploration of urban friendship in unexpected places. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7868-0652-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2001

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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 dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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