Well-meaning but saccharine and didactic.

IF KIDS RAN THE WORLD

Leo Dillon’s last book with Diane Dillon imagines what the world would be like if children were in charge.

The Dillons envision a world of peace, fairness and kindness, where everyone’s basic needs would be met. No one would be hungry, and everyone would have a place to live. Sick people would have medicine, and good schools would be universal. Unsurprisingly, this world is populated with smiling, happy children of many skin tones, wearing clothing from all corners of the world and representing a variety of religions. The figures on each spread are painted against a bright white background, making the children pop off the page in contrast. An unvarying optimism oozes from each word and illustration, creating a strange world of sameness that may remind some of 1970s-era educational tracts. Paintings of many children in traditional costumes add to that generic, “It’s a Small World” feeling. The educational tone extends into a three-page sermon about children’s volunteerism and a discussion of Franklin Roosevelt’s “Second Bill of Rights.” Children might enjoy the pictures, but even they will be stretched to imagine a world where “No bullying would be allowed”; how many schools extend this promise without delivering? With so little to pin this book to the world actual children are living in, it feels like a gesture rather than a call to action.

Well-meaning but saccharine and didactic. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-44196-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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