Sketchy and reductive but probably, alas, fairly valid.


An earnest message for (mostly) young readers: Adults may look grown up, but they don’t leave the children they were behind.

In block-lettered lines fitted in around the cartoon figures that populate his pages, Blackshaw casts typical adult behavior in a juvenile light with help from four grown-ups, three white people in street clothes and a black man in tight-fitting workout clothes. Superimposed within each full-color character is an interior black-and-white mini-me that mirrors every gesture and mood. When grown-ups “want a new toy,” the author explains, “they call it a gadget or say that it is something they really need.” Evidence of inner children abounds: “Nasty adults” have nasty kids inside (a secondary character whose interior child has a loaded diaper represents these unpleasant people); people in love speaking baby talk (“I wub you!” “I wub you too”); and sometimes grown-ups just have to cut loose and dance or play in some other way. He goes on to warn young readers that there will still be things that scare, annoy, or anger them when they’re older too. The author’s closing claim that inner children should be encouraged because they “make being an adult…SO MUCH FUN!” won’t lighten the gloom much for children who were actually hoping that adulthood would be better, or at least different. On the other hand, children, or anyone, puzzled by the strange things grown-ups do may appreciate the insight.

Sketchy and reductive but probably, alas, fairly valid. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-908714-68-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Cicada Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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