Immigrant children will relate to the head-spinning switch from ordinary to different, and their classmates might better...

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A PIECE OF HOME

Moving from Korea to West Virginia, a young boy leaves the familiar behind.

Watts begins this immigration story with Hee Jun describing his remarkable grandmother, who had sparkling eyes. “My grandmother could find the extraordinary held within the ordinary.” She coaxes the national tree of Korea, called the mugunghwa, to flower, revealing delicate blossoms with bright red centers. Readers are shown Hee Jun’s life back home, where he is ordinary. “A regular boy, playing and laughing and bossing my little sister.” Life seems easy and commonplace. With the announcement of the move, the little boy swings from a carefree outlook to concern and frustration. The narration clearly describes his irritation with the language barrier, while the illustrations show Korean Hangul lettering in his dialogue bubbles. Emotions show clearly in Hee Jun’s moon-shaped face as round-eyed classmates stare and the teacher speaks loudly to him. This tangible emotional struggle extends to others in the family as well. His little sister acts out, and grandmother loses her sparkle. But slowly, over time, the family adjusts to the new world, with Hee Jun teaching his grandmother the English name for mugunghwa. Watts’ clear storytelling successfully conveys Hee Jun’s emotional journey to readers, and Yum’s emotive illustrations sensitively complement the text.

Immigrant children will relate to the head-spinning switch from ordinary to different, and their classmates might better understand the emotional impact of moving to a foreign land. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6971-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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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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