Quaint in scope, tremendous in flair.


In the land of Trelfdom, a trelf brother-and-sister duo must prepare for a cleanliness inspection from a strict inspector on the eve of a grand party.

It’s the 10th annual Strawberry Jam Party, and Roog’s in a tizzy. As the cooking and baking expert, he’s working hard to prepare all the tasty food—including cakes, pies, waffles, croissants, and more—for the celebration. His animal-loving sister, Teaflet, spends her time helping out animals in need, occasionally disrupting Roog’s laborious kitchen work. So when a letter arrives announcing a cleanliness inspection from the very strict (and “marvelous”—also “humble”) Inspector Maple, Roog twirls into distress. If Teaflet and Roog fail the inquiry, they’ll have to clean Inspector Maple’s house. “It’s a disaster! If we’re cleaning her house, we can’t be having a Strawberry Jam Party,” exclaims Roog. To calm her brother’s nerves, Teaflet volunteers to clean their house (“top to bottom”) while Roog readies for the celebration. Can the trelf siblings clean a house full of animals, pass the inspection, and host a grand Strawberry Jam Party in less than a day? Retro in its tone and aesthetics, Birdsall and Dyer’s humorous, enchanting collaboration is a slice of whimsy with a scoop of jam-errific fun on top. Featuring wire and wool figurines, clay objects, and watercolor artwork, Dyer’s contribution satisfies in pulling readers into Teaflet and Roog’s world, a mishmash of critters, confetti, and cakes. Birdsall, meanwhile, opts for a conversational narrative voice that’s like a mischievous and good-natured call for everyday adventure. Trelf characters have beige complexions.

Quaint in scope, tremendous in flair. (Fiction. 5-10)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17911-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...


Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet