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

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


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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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

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