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 message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE SCHOOLS

From the My Purple World series

A color-themed vision of what school should be like.

In what amounts to a rehash of The World Needs More Purple People (2020), Bell and Hart address adult as well as young readers to explain what “curious and kind you” can do to make school, or for that matter the universe, a better place. Again culminating in the vague but familiar “JUST. BE. YOU!” the program remains much the same—including asking questions both “universe-sized” (“Could you make a burrito larger than a garbage truck?”) and “smaller, people-sized” (i.e., personal), working hard to learn and make things, offering praise and encouragement, speaking up and out, laughing together, and listening to others. In the illustrations, light-skinned, blond-haired narrator Penny poses amid a busy, open-mouthed, diverse cast that includes a child wearing a hijab and one who uses a wheelchair. Wiseman opts to show fewer grown-ups here, but the children are the same as in the earlier book, and a scene showing two figures blowing chocolate milk out of their noses essentially recycles a visual joke from the previous outing. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43490-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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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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