For very girly princesses-at-heart.

BELLA'S BIRTHDAY UNICORN

From the Unicorn Magic series , Vol. 1

The author of the Canterwood Crest series switches from horses to magical unicorns in this chapter-book series opener.

Princess Bella lives in the Crystal Kingdom, where magic, unicorns and royalty coexist with intercoms and photography. As a royal, Bella’s eighth birthday is important—her aura will become visible, and she will get her own unicorn. Three birthday storylines ebb and flow: Bella’s commoner best friends feel left out by the royal traditions; Bella periodically worries that no unicorn will Pair with her at the unicorn ceremony; and a mysterious woman with an evil, red aura and her own bad unicorns is rumored to live on the edge of town. While the book respects Bella’s friends’ feelings with regard to privilege, the plotline is simply resolved—at first only royals are allowed in the special birthday parade, and then that’s changed so her commoner friends can attend. Rather like the evil fairy in “Sleeping Beauty,” the mysterious woman arrives, uninvited, to trigger exposition and then leaves. The unicorn ceremony also passes without tension or surprise. The plotting is borderline adequate and doesn’t sparkle nearly as brightly as the descriptions of delicious meals, jewelry, unicorns and, most fulsome, dresses. Easy-to-read, descriptive prose is augmented by friendly illustrations.

For very girly princesses-at-heart. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1105-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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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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