A sincere but sometimes-treacly paean to books and their myriad pleasures.

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THE 5,000 FRIENDS OF VERONICA VEETCH

Can inanimate objects become friends?

When the objects are books, the answer is yes! Veronica’s schoolmates dismiss her as “a richy-rich snob” because she “talked of many fine things, / like operas and oysters and gleaming gold rings.” It is not until Veronica invites them home that the other kids realize that V.V.’s pretentious manner is inspired by what she’s read. Her house is falling apart, but it’s filled with books. She makes good on her invitation: “I’ll gleefully give you a round-the-world trip.” There is a double-page spread with Boston ducklings, peaceful Spanish Ferdinand, and French Madeline. The diverse group of friends (Veronica is white with lush, red hair) soon embraces her, listening politely as Veronica preaches about books: “they’re my playmates, my pals, / my companions, my buddies.” When Veronica sorrowfully finishes her last book, the other kids bring her to a new place, the public library. The verse occasionally cloys: “Veronica Veetch was a curious girl, / from the size of her teeth to the swirl of her curl.” The six line-and-color friends appear in the foreground in full color, with shadowy, detailed monochrome drawings of the books’ subject matter in the background; the overall effect can be hard to parse and limits the book’s use as a read-aloud. Veronica’s library is not as diverse as her friends—titles referenced tend toward the “classics.”

A sincere but sometimes-treacly paean to books and their myriad pleasures. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-934649-27-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bailiwick Press

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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