An undistinguished addition to the infuriatingly overstuffed shelves of anger-management treatises.

THE POUT-POUT FISH AND THE MAD, MAD DAY

From the Pout-Pout Fish series

Pout-Pout goes off the deep end.

Plainly afflicted with anger issues, Mr. Fish leverages a broken knickknack, difficulty finding glue, and the mild reactions of his neighbors to his plight into a towering, out-of-control tantrum. Mrs. Squid offers a tried-and-true (though, at least for a fish, physically impossible) counterstrategy: “To get started, simply breathe. / Then slowly count from one to ten / To counteract the seethe.” Miss Shimmer, another fish, suggests using his words to talk out his feelings…which he does (though only in the pictures, as Diesen declines to use her words to describe what he actually says). Finally, “with words and self-compassion / I bring anger to a stop,” and once he’s gotten his “grrrrr” out, the glue even turns up so that in no time fish and fracture are both “good as new.” Unlike the “seethe” in Molly Bang’s When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry… (1999) or Polly Dunbar’s Red Red Red (2020), the rage here comes across as manufactured rather than genuine—and the coping techniques are more described in general terms than actually demonstrated. Hanna’s cartoon cast of fancifully colored deep-sea denizens is as googly-eyed as ever. He adds some amusing details, as with the labels on Mr. Fish’s storage bins (“Might Need Someday” and “Not Sure will look later”), but the souvenir from “Machoo Poochy” is an unfortunate choice. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 75% of actual size.)

An undistinguished addition to the infuriatingly overstuffed shelves of anger-management treatises. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-30935-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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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