ALEXANDER, WHO'S TRYING HIS BEST TO BE THE BEST BOY EVER

Alexander eats an entire box of doughnuts and hides the empty box in almost plain sight.

Alexander, of the beloved Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good, Very Bad Day (1972), is back, and he’s as clueless as ever, with grandiose plans that always seem to end in disaster. He must now face the consequences of his latest escapade. He’s banned from playing video games or watching TV, and he’s left out of a family outing. He hates consequences. To avoid further punishments, he announces that he will never get in trouble again and that he will be good forever. Although he keeps getting great ideas, he manages, barely, to hold on and keep his promise. Of course this cannot go on for long, and his attempts at exemplary behavior are doomed as he careens from one hilarious mess to another and finally gives in to temptation. Alexander narrates his own tale of woe in an illogical, impish and delightful stream of consciousness. Although in his case, it is more apt to be unconsciousness. Viorst totally understands how little boys think and react and keeps Alexander fresh and appealing. Monés’ fine-lined, black-and-white illustrations pay homage to Ray Cruz’s style from the original work, but they have their own liveliness and charm.

Welcome back, Alexander. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2353-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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Positively refreshing.

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HAIR LOVE

A black girl helps her dad learn how to give her the perfect hairstyle for a very special day.

Zuri’s voluminous head of hair “has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way.” She is pictured asleep with a large Afro framing her face. She is proud of her hair, which she sometimes wears in braids with beads like a princess and other times in pigtail puffs. But today is a special day. She knows Daddy is “worn-out” and probably needs a break, so she lets him sleep in while she looks up hairstyles on a tablet. When Daddy wakes and offers to help, he tries a series of hairstyles that just don’t work. Finally, Zuri grabs some hair supplies and shows him a tutorial. “Watching carefully… / Daddy combed, / parted, oiled, and twisted. / He nailed it!” Zuri is lovely and happy with her freshly done hairstyle, and when Mommy arrives to their “Welcome Home” sign, she loves Zuri’s look too. The digital illustrations feature details that feel just right: Zuri’s thick, textured hair, Daddy’s locs and tattoo, and dark-skinned Mom’s bright headwrap. While it’s unclear where Mommy is returning from (she is dressed casually and has a rolling black suitcase), this authentic depiction of a loving and whole black family broadens the scope of representation.

Positively refreshing. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55336-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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