A worthy attempt to make an ineffable concept accessible to a young audience.

EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED

A single line swirls, connecting objects, people, and even planets.

The author begins with literal connections and then moves outward: We are connected to our bodies, to others, to animals, and to all things humans have created. We may feel proud of some of these creations, but others may give us pause, such as poverty, greed, and lies. The author acknowledges that being human can sometimes feel like quite a mess! We are even declared connected to “Jesus and Buddha, Muhammad and Moses,” who are each shown in portraits, a geometric image standing in for the representation of Muhammad. What exactly this connection is or means, however, remains abstract and ambiguous. An unfortunate drawback is that the text often gets in its own way. At some points a seemingly rigid adherence to rhyme comes at the expense of sense; in others the rhyme structure is abandoned. This makes for a confused read-aloud. Still, the book generally succeeds at what seems to be its objective—to spark questions and conversations. The clean-lined illustrations have a surreal quality, appropriately matched to the subject matter. Human figures are shown in silhouette or with unrealistic skin tones, like paper white, jet black, and shadowy green. The thread of the single line woven throughout the illustrations adds a helpful, literal representation of connection, though it’s an idea that may be a bit too abstruse for the intended audience.

A worthy attempt to make an ineffable concept accessible to a young audience. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61180-631-1

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Bala Kids/Shambhala

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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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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