This visually buoyant book may well succeed at redirecting gender expectations—though not bending them.

A BOY LIKE YOU

The title answers a question: What does the world need?

In simple, aphorism-laced language, Murphy offers a positive vision of masculinity that focuses on what he dubs “ ‘inside’ strength”—the sort that privileges kindness, respect for self and for others, knowing when to ask for help, and daring to dream big. He begins with guidelines for right behavior on the playing field (“Say ‘Nice goal!’ and ‘Good try!’ / Don’t say ‘You throw like a girl.’ Ever”). With the heartily welcome reminder that “there’s so much more than sports,” he goes on to suggest that spending time in a garden, kitchen, or science lab, playing music, reading or writing stories can all be just as valid and satisfying. Likewise showing consideration for others, working toward goals, and finally realizing that “the best you / is the you that is ALL you…. / Not a little you and a little someone else.” Harren adds life and color to this earnest but not exactly electrifying advice in vignettes depicting a black lad with mobile features and interracial parents playing or otherwise posing in various settings amid a thoroughly diverse cast of peers, pets, and passersby. The figures, human and otherwise, are rendered with fetching individuality that really comes out in group scenes…particularly on the closing pages, where the illustrator lines up smiling young children, including girls, in informal rows.

This visually buoyant book may well succeed at redirecting gender expectations—though not bending them. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-53411-046-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

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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