A joyful book about growing up Native in a loving community—not to be missed.

JO JO MAKOONS

THE USED-TO-BE BEST FRIEND

From the Jo Jo Makoons series , Vol. 1

This silly chapter book features a funny Ojibwe girl protagonist.

Set on a fictional reservation known as the Pembina Ojibwe, this story introduces Jo Jo, an intelligent and charismatic first grader who is fretting over two big problems in this series opener. Her first worry concerns her home best friend, Mimi the cat, who she fears may deflate when she gets vaccinated. Her second concern is that her school best friend, Fern, has begun to ignore her at lunchtime. From Jo Jo’s difficulties with language arts to her attempts to save Mimi, hijinks emerge. Through it all, cultural information about Jo Jo’s Ojibwe way of life is shared in a way that suggests her pride for her people, traditions, and family. Young readers will revel in the humor this chapter book offers: the wordplay, the nicknames, and Jo Jo’s irrepressible narrative voice. But it is the friendships at her school, where her teacher is White and her classmates are multicultural, that will linger with readers. Even though it is in a border town, the school Jo Jo attends respects her cultural traditions, and the effect is heartwarming. Quigley (Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe) provides a glossary of Ojibwe and Michif words that enhances the experience. Audibert (of Wolastoqey and French heritage) supplies plentiful grayscale illustrations that depict Jo Jo and her friends with big, pretty eyes and expressive faces.

A joyful book about growing up Native in a loving community—not to be missed. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-301537-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Heartdrum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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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