New readers thirsty for series fiction will look forward to more stories about Jasmine and her family.



From the Jasmine Toguchi series

Eight-year-old Japanese-American Jasmine Toguchi is tired of having to follow in the footsteps of her older sister, Sophie, who gets to do everything first.

The extended Toguchi family gathers each year to celebrate New Year’s Day. Some, like mean cousin Eddie and his family, just have to drive down from San Francisco. But beloved Obaachan flies all the way from Hiroshima, Japan. Sophie and Eddie, being the older cousins, are excited about the roles they will play this year, namely to help out with the preparations for mochi, a sweet and sticky rice dessert that traditionally is pounded by the men of the family and shaped by the women. This strikes Jasmine as unfair, so she sets out to prove to her family that she is strong enough to join in the task herself. She takes it upon herself to strengthen her muscles with weight lifting (with the baby cousins!) and hanging by her arms, but nothing seems to work. It’s a thin plotline with little tension, but to populate it, Florence paints a lovely picture of a warm, extended family whose members truly care about one another and take each other seriously. Black-and-white sketches, liberally sprinkled through 13 short, easy-to-read chapters, help make the story understandable for the newest readers. Children looking for a window into a Japanese-American family and its New Year’s customs will surely find one here. Book 2, Jasmine Toguchi, Super Sleuth, publishes simultaneously and perhaps will more fully develop its plot now that this effort has introduced the characters. A recipe for mochi is included.

New readers thirsty for series fiction will look forward to more stories about Jasmine and her family. (Fiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-30410-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.


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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