Shannon and Fearing combine their considerable talents to create a most bewitching tale of self-confidence and perseverance.

A VERY WITCHY SPELLING BEE

When young witch Cordelia enters a spelling bee, not only does she need to rely on her skills as an accomplished speller, but she must also use her wits to foil the competition…in the nicest way possible.

Cordelia really loves spelling and is quite good at it, but Mama thinks she may be too young to enter the Witches’ Double Spelling Bee. The contest is held only once every 10 years, and Cordelia wants to try. “I’ve studied. I’ve practiced. I’m ready to win!” Little does Cordelia know that the most recent winner, mean-spirited Beulah Divine, intends to keep her 130-year-long winning streak going. The night of the bee arrives, and the rules are clear. When called, the contestant selects a letter from a bowl, then must “choose something onstage and spell it. Using the letter…picked, cast a spell that transforms what you choose into something new. Spell the new word.” Cordelia impresses the crowd by using the “R” she selected to transform a “S-H-O-E into a H-O-R-S-E.” At the end, it’s down to sweet Cordelia and vicious Beulah. Other witches might be cowed, but Cordelia believes in herself. She pulls out an “R” to zap Beulah, who is a F-I-E-N-D, and change her into a F-R-I-E-N-D.

Shannon and Fearing combine their considerable talents to create a most bewitching tale of self-confidence and perseverance. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-15-206696-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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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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