An enduring friendship wins the day in this chapter-book adventure.

SYDNEY & TAYLOR EXPLORE THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD

From the Sydney & Taylor series , Vol. 1

At every turn of events, the title characters’ personalities seem to shift and reverse.

Sydney and Taylor live in a burrow under Miss Nancy’s potting shed. Sydney is a skunk who loves to sit quietly and listen to the sounds of the world above. Taylor is a hedgehog who longs to travel and explore the world beyond the burrow. Sydney cares about his friend and wants him to be happy, so he agrees to an expedition. Almost immediately, however, Taylor becomes nervous and worries that his fear of new things and strangers will overcome him; Sydney staunchly reassures him. Although they have never even met Miss Nancy and know nothing of what waits beyond her fence, they set off feeling “wild and fearless and free.” At first Taylor is the brave one, mapping the route and leading the way. But with every new encounter Taylor’s fright takes over, and it is Sydney who provides leadership and solutions. To their great relief—and with a little help from Miss Nancy—the intrepid adventurers arrive home safely. Davies describes the action with verve, humor, and compassion, employing vivid, expressive syntax as she focuses on the characters’ nonfussy, genuine friendship and the shifts in their dynamic. Hocking’s very carefully rendered, brightly colored illustrations closely follow the events, capturing the friends’ personalities and their every emotion; their burrow, seen in an early cross-section, is a delight unto itself.

An enduring friendship wins the day in this chapter-book adventure. (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-10631-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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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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