The real gift of this book comes from presenting a different point of reference to American children who hear only stories...

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JUANA & LUCAS

From the Juana & Lucas series , Vol. 1

Meet Juana, a lively and opinionated grade school girl growing up in Bogotá, Colombia. She strongly dislikes wearing her hot and itchy school uniform but even more having to learn to speak English: “Why not just speak in Spanish? It is SO much easier!”

Juana comes from a middle-class white family. She likes drawing, the superhero Astroman, and eating Brussels sprouts. She loves Bogotá, reading, her mother, and her dog, Lucas. When she finds out they will be learning to speak English in school, Juana is not happy. She’s got trouble enough with learning math. English is muy hard. Told from Juana’s point of view with humor and drama, using capitalized words, periods separating words for emphasis, and a good sprinkling of Spanish words throughout, the book makes clear there’s a universality to Juana’s story. The ink-and-watercolor cartoon-style illustrations are charming, but depictions of the city are less precise than those of its diverse inhabitants. Readers not familiar with Bogotá will fail to get a real sense of place. And Juana’s trouble with English? Suffice it to say a promised trip to the U.S.A. to meet Astroman proves to be a great incentive.

The real gift of this book comes from presenting a different point of reference to American children who hear only stories of poverty and need coming out of South America. (Fiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7208-9

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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