THE TURKEY PRINCE

In this earnest retelling of a Hasidic tale, a young prince with feelings of inadequacy concludes that he is really a turkey, and so takes up residence under the kitchen table. Conventional healers can’t shake his conviction. Finally, one comes along who takes a different tack, announcing that he too is a turkey, getting down on the floor with the prince, but suggesting that there’s no reason why turkeys can’t wear human clothes, eat human food, etc. Years later, when the prince, now a beloved king, hears that one of his young subjects is living under a table, he knows just what to do. Several of the oddly dressed figures in White’s spacious, slightly offbeat illustrations seem to be part animal themselves, suggesting that the prince isn’t alone in not feeling up to embracing his role in life. A debut for author and illustrator both, this imparts a perceptive lesson in tolerating foibles, one’s own as well as those of others—as does Art Spiegelman’s briefer (but funnier) comic-book version of the story in his Little Lit: Folklore and Fairy Tale Funnies (p. 1432). (Picture book/folktale. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-670-88872-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2000

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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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GRUMPY MONKEY FRESHLY SQUEEZED

From the Grumpy Monkey series

Grumpy Monkey moves from picture books to a graphic-novel chapter book, in which he tolerates his friends’ goofy antics during a group journey to an orange grove.

Divided into three chapters of cartoon-style comics, with bonus interludes in between, the book features Jim Panzee, the protagonist of the Grumpy Monkey picture-book series. He is on his relaxing Wednesday Walk, stress orange in hand, but little is quiet about his journey once his jungle friends appear. After the accumulation of unwanted companions causes Jim to squeeze his stress orange so hard that he destroys it, the group seeks a replacement, stopping for a papaya fight, a splash party in the water, and some swinging from vines. They eventually escape angry parrots with the only orange the parrots didn’t devour. There’s a good dose of potty humor: Leslie the giraffe responds to Norman the gorilla’s invitation to come along with “you bet your butt I do,” and two spreads are devoted to poop humor (with Jim as the butt of the joke). There’s also wordplay (a chapter called “Orange Ya Glad We Made It?”; Jim’s repeated mantra, “Squeeze, squeeze, mind at ease”; and a guide to speaking Jim’s nonsense language, in which the syllable ob is inserted before vowels in every word). That the book pauses for a “Primate Primer” with talking simians will be like pouring lemon juice on a cut for those readers who see in anthropomorphized monkeys a perpetuation of pernicious anti-Black stereotypes.

Disappointing. (Graphic fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30601-7

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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