A sweet start ripe for more installments

READ REVIEW

OWEN AND ELEANOR MOVE IN

Faith and friendship are at the heart of Bouwman’s (A Crack in the Sea, 2017, etc.) new chapter-book series.

Eight-year old Eleanor has just moved, against her protestations, into a new duplex with her family. Now she’s suddenly forced to share a room with her older sister, and to top it off, her beloved goldfish, Scrumpy IV, has just bought the farm. Eleanor loves Darth Vader and building. The upstairs of the duplex is home to 7-year-old home-schooler Owen, who loves secret codes and fencing. He has not had much experience making friends, much less ones with so forceful a personality as Eleanor. When Eleanor announces her plan to run away, back to her beloved blue house, in order to bury Scrumpy alongside his predecessors and to take up residence herself in the backyard treehouse, Owen is along for a wild ride. Although the story is brief, Bouwman manages to bring depth to each of the protagonists as the narrative shifts between Owen’s and Eleanor’s perspectives, both wrestling with their choices and values. The particular moral and theological bent of the narrative may limit the audience somewhat—Eleanor’s concerns about losing her home are relieved when she’s reminded that her “real home is always with God”—but the overarching themes of friendship, familial love, and resiliency in the face of change are fairly universal. Brown-skinned Eleanor has a mixed heritage, with a Costa Rican–born father and American-born mother, while Owen presents white.

A sweet start ripe for more installments . (Fiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5064-3972-3

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Sparkhouse

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

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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