True and powerful in its simplicity.

THE STORY OF BODRI

A young girl is “a happy child in a happy place” until everything changes.

Hédi lives in a little town in Hungary with her parents, her sister, Livia, and her dog, Bodri. She shares secrets and fun with her best friend, Marika. Hédi is Jewish and Marika is Christian, and that has not made a difference in their friendship. When Hitler’s frightening, hate-filled voice is heard, Hédi’s parents try to reassure the children. But the soldiers come and bring a new reality. “Hitler hated me and my family because we were Jewish.” Restrictions force Hédi’s family to stay indoors, always hoping things would get better, but of course they never did. They’re rounded up and put on a train for the camps. Dreaming of Bodri throughout her captivity keeps Hédi from total despair as the many months pass. Her parents are gone; she and her sister, their heads shaved, are hungry, cold, and filthy. The sisters survive and are miraculously reunited with faithful Bodri. In a brief introduction, Fried warns that her story is difficult for her to tell, but readers must listen. She speaks to a young audience in carefully chosen language, skillfully translated from Swedish by Schenck, telling just enough of the horrors to help them to a modicum of understanding in the hope that they will always choose good over evil. Wirsén’s liquid watercolors perfectly invoke that time and place and its emotional upheaval. Never again.

True and powerful in its simplicity. (Picture book/memoir. 6-12)

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5565-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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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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