Soto (Fearless Fernie, p. 52, etc.) offers a complex take on the “giving is better than receiving” sentiment in this gentle lesson on what really matters.  Eight-year-old Rigo’s resentment builds over the preponderance of hand-me-down clothes he inherits from his three older brothers until he can’t take it anymore and he throws the latest worn-out batch into the garbage can and pleads for something brand new.  Sure enough, new loafers are in the works, but even they turn out to be a problem.  Finally he gives them to his Uncle Celso, and this act signals a distinct and empowering shift in Rigo.  For the first time, Rigo sees himself as part of the giving community, an important contributor to the family’s well being.  He also learns about pride, and how having pride in who you are can be a useful tool in confronting fear.  When his Uncle Celso, overjoyed at Rigo’s generosity, gives Rigo a couple of Mexican pennies and notes the coins are even older than he is, Rigo plans to save them for the slots of new loafers if he ever gets any.  But the pennies also provide him a new source of strength and courage when it comes to his dealings with the world outside his family.  Sprinkled throughout the text are italicized words in Spanish, accompanied by a back-page glossary, a subtle reinforcement of the story’s setting.  Widener’s (The Christmas Cobwebs, 2001, etc.) lively illustrations of Rigo and his family establish a warm, inviting tone, exuding friendliness without being cliché-ridden or saccharine-coated.  (Picture book.  5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-23420-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2002

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


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.


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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