A gentle and reassuring depiction of the cycle of life.

READ REVIEW

I'M RIGHT HERE

Is it OK to be afraid?

William is afraid of many things—angry dogs, stinging wasps, dangerous fires, sharks, storms, the dark, war—but he isn’t ready to open up and talk about them until his grandmother shares her anxieties with him. Grandma is sometimes frightened, too; she worries that she’ll no longer see squirrels and blossoms, that she won’t hear birds sing. She’s afraid of dying and losing all that she loves. Dark, virtually monochromatic illustrations show William’s fears in contrast with the brightly colored depictions of what Grandma is afraid she will lose. As the two communicate and comfort each other, both gain insight; William is left with the understanding that his fears will fade as he grows up, while Grandma comes to believe that she’ll be able to see everything she loves, including William, after she dies. This may not be the right selection for every child. Its focus is on the adult’s fear rather than the child’s; the idea that the child’s fears will fade with time may not be satisfying; and those who do not ascribe to the idea of an afterlife may find it inappropriate. Still, this tale has a warm and tranquil quality that, blended with the striking and accessible illustrations, soothes and comforts like a familiar blanket.

A gentle and reassuring depiction of the cycle of life. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5455-1

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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Aims high but falls flat.

WILD SYMPHONY

Through 20 short poems, Maestro Mouse invites readers to meet a series of animals who have lessons to impart and a symphony to perform.

Brown, author of The DaVinci Code (2003) and other wildly popular titles for adults, here offers young listeners a poetry collection accompanied by music: a “symphony” performed, for readers equipped with an audio device and an internet connection, by the Zagreb Festival Orchestra. From the introduction of the conductor and the opening “Woodbird Welcome” to the closing “Cricket Lullaby,” the writer/composer uses poems made of three to eight rhyming couplets, each line with four strong beats, to introduce the animals who will be revealed in the final double gatefold as the players in an all-animal orchestra. Each poem also contains a lesson, reinforced by a short message (often on a banner or signpost). Thus, “When life trips them up a bit, / Cats just make the best of it” concludes the poem “Clumsy Kittens,” which is encapsulated by “Falling down is part of life. The best thing to do is get back on your feet!” The individual songs and poems may appeal to the intended audience, but collectively they don’t have enough variety to be read aloud straight through. Nor does the gathering of the orchestra provide a narrative arc. Batori’s cartoon illustrations are whimsically engaging, however. They include puzzles: hard-to-find letters that are said to form anagrams of instrument names and a bee who turns up somewhere in every scene.

Aims high but falls flat. (Complete composition not available for review.) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12384-3

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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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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