A testament to the folly of using extreme measures that is itself flawed.



A fable for our times….

Hardworking Mr. Pig loves his garden. He tends his flowers each evening—or at least that’s his intention. His neighbor, Little Tortoise, interrupts his purposeful solitude with ceaseless chatter and exhortations to play. From offering unsolicited help (Little Tortoise pulls up a potted plant by its roots) to hitching a ride on some 2-by-4s that Mr. Pig has thrown across his shoulder, the diminutive reptile is a clueless nuisance. The porcine gardener reaches his limit and proceeds to build a brick wall of epic proportions. To the pig’s chagrin, the wall is more effective than he imagined. It keeps everything out—including sunlight. The lovely garden withers, and the pig becomes despondent. With the help of some helium-filled balloons and a sunflower, the tortoise inadvertently takes Mr. Pig soaring above a world free of walls and fences, demonstrating that a diversity of elements is needed in order to thrive. Hernandez’s bright illustrations complement the text, from the naïve tortoise’s toothy grin to the irritated pig’s perpetual grimace. The allegorical reference to the immigration policies of the United States falls flat, however, because Little Tortoise, while unfortunately conforming to many negative Latinx stereotypes, owns her own property and is not trying to move in with Mr. Pig, the embodiment of the Protestant work ethic.

A testament to the folly of using extreme measures that is itself flawed. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7206-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Lit with sweetness.


Coco, who loves her gentle friend Bear, is shocked to learn that the other forest animals do not know about his kindness.

Inspired by one of her grandmother’s favorite maxims, Coco, a girl with light brown skin and curly brown hair, works with Bear to “share some kindness [and] bring some light” to the other animals in the forest. Interpreting it literally, the two make cookies (kindness) and lanterns (light) to share with the other animals. They trek through the snow-covered forest to deliver their gifts, but no one trusts Bear enough to accept them. As night begins to fall, Bear and Coco head home with the lanterns and cookies. On the way through the quiet forest, they hear a small voice pleading for help; it’s Baby Deer, stuck in the snow. They help free him, and Bear gives the young one a ride home on his back. When the other animals see both that Baby Deer is safe and that Bear is responsible for this, they begin to recognize all the wonderful things about Bear that they had not noticed before. The episode is weak on backstory—how did Coco and Bear become friends? Why don’t the animals know Bear better by now?—but Stott’s delicately inked and colored illustrations offer beguiling views of lightly anthropomorphized woodland critters that make it easy to move past these stumbling blocks. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 67% of actual size.)

Lit with sweetness. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6238-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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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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