Wonderfully imaginative and intriguing.

I GOT IT!

A weedy kid in shorts and a T-shirt goes to the sandlot with a glove, hoping to play.

Sent to the outfield, the kid waits for a chance. The batter hits a long fly ball that sails that way. The protagonist runs, leaps, and stretches, yelling, “I got it!”—the only words in the book. But the kid trips over some roots, dives, and lands on the ground with the ball just out of reach, while team members cluster around, clutching their heads in disbelief. Wiesner is a master of fantastical wordless (or nearly so) adventures, and what seems to be a simple event becomes a series of might-have-beens and possibilities, playing out several times with different scenarios. A huge tree with protruding roots appears and stops the kid from getting to the ball; several teammates give chase, gloves outstretched, as the protagonist seems to be among them and then flying over them to finally grab the elusive ball: “I GOT IT!” This time it is the batter who’s thrown into despair, while the protagonist’s team cheers. And what about the birds? Are they just observers or are they somehow affecting the outcome? Sometimes the protagonist is small and the glove and ball are huge as perspective shifts. The scenes are softly painted, growing brighter and sharper after the catch. Readers will interpret it any way they wish, perhaps differently with each perusal. The protagonist has light olive skin and straight black hair, and the other players are racially and gender diverse.

Wonderfully imaginative and intriguing. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-30902-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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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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