IS THERE REALLY A HUMAN RACE?

Teammates Curtis and Cornell have once again produced a winningly simple yet profound picture book that uses a play on the word “race” to ask, through a variety of child-posed questions, about the significant competition we all face as humans. What’s the race all about? When did it start? How does one compete and train? What about winning or losing? The second half of Curtis’s rhyming ode to humanity concludes with a series of responses pointing out everyone’s responsibility to “just try your best” and help one another “make the world better for the whole human race.” Cornell’s signature full-color cartoon illustrations with hand-lettered text comically portray a variety of contests the young hero imagines with angst and concern as he continues to wonder. Sound philosophy ingeniously expressed in an amusing and insightful way that both youngsters can understand and we older folk should heed. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-075346-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2006

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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 gem for every household.

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ALL BECAUSE YOU MATTER

Two accomplished creators invite Black children to take up their spaces in the world.

Charles’ lyrical text addresses “you, dear child,” in the voice of a loving caregiver, recounting how the world anticipated and prepared for the child’s existence. The child was “dreamed of, / like a knapsack / full of wishes / carried on the backs / of your ancestors,” who worked and built, “because to them, / you always mattered.” The word “matter” is used in both ways: as a noun, as the child is made up of the same stuff that makes up the universe, and as a verb, because “strength, power and beauty / lie within,” even though the world will sometimes make the child question whether “they, / or you, / will ever matter.” The universe made room for “you, / your people, / their dreams, / your future,” Charles assures the child. The protesters (“take a breath, / take a stand, / take a knee”) and victims of racist violence (“Trayvon, / Tamir, / Philando”) are mentioned explicitly without becoming the focus; the journey from beginning to end of the book sends a message that is nurturing, nourishing, loving, and reassuring, expanding and deepening the words of the movement it echoes. Collier’s trademark paint-and-collage illustrations use petal shapes with patterns and faces, blue and brown hues, and family scenes and close-ups to embody the child’s growth within affectionate circles of family, community, and universe.

A gem for every household. (author's note, illustrator's note) (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57485-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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