An uninspired retread, still with only hints of the wit and silly humor that light up Pilkey’s other series.

RICKY RICOTTA'S MIGHTY ROBOT

From the Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot series , Vol. 1

New, all-color illustrations on shiny paper add gloss to this reboot of a Captain Underpants also-ran.

The plotline remains the same: Small, bullied mouse gains a huge metal friend after rescuing it from its creator, mad scientist Dr. Stinky McNasty. Said friend goes on to subdue the bullies, star in the best classroom show and tell ever, and battle McNasty’s next effort, a giant lizard. The battle is portrayed partly in Pilkey’s trademark Flip-O-Rama (though with Santat’s illustrations) and partly in newly crafted pages of minicomics. Overall, though Ricky and the robot look about the same as they did in the 2000 original (illustrated in a thick-lined, cartoony style by Martin Ontiveros), Santat portrays them in a more lapidary way, with shiny eyes and gleaming highlights. He also adds more background detail, makes the bullies bigger but not so mean of aspect, and exchanges McNasty’s nerdy goggles for an eye patch to give the bad guy a more dashingly villainous air. This last is disappointing: When will we stop using images of disability as signifiers of evil? The drawing instructions at the back of the original edition have been dropped.

An uninspired retread, still with only hints of the wit and silly humor that light up Pilkey’s other series. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-63106-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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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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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