A positive and realistic representation of both a wheelchair user and an elderly, interracial gay male couple.

A PLAN FOR POPS

Lou visits Grandad and Pops every Saturday and learns a lot from their radically alternative interests, until an accident disrupts the family’s happy routine.

Grandad likes learning how things work, and Pops enjoys the spicier things in life. Lou continually goes between them, equally validating their perspectives. Once Pops is asleep after listening to rock-and-roll, Lou and Grandad work on perfecting their (unnamed) Rube Goldberg machine that produces an aerial burst of paper cranes. One Saturday, Pops, already frail, suffers a fall, after which he must permanently use a wheelchair. Over the following weeks, Lou takes up the mission of getting a depressed Pops to come out of his room. Smith conscientiously relates how “the three Ps—perseverance, persistence and patience”—apply to many aspects of life. Kerrigan’s digital art couples quick pencil outlines with gentle and colorful watercolor washes, subtly mirroring the two grandparents’ personalities. Facial expressions and body language convey mood well. On the page turn when Pops falls, Kerrigan utilizes minimalism to successfully convey the incident and the sharp emotion it elicits. The ending is happily resolved but abrupt. Rachel Martinez’s translation for the companion French edition, Une idée pour Papi, is mostly verbatim but edits to two Ps, “la persévérance et la patience,” forgiven perhaps with the three words’ similar meanings, even in English. Granddad presents black and both Pops and Lou present white.

A positive and realistic representation of both a wheelchair user and an elderly, interracial gay male couple. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1614-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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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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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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