A pointed jab at wanton fearmongering, lightened by a bit of philosophy and rather a lot of gas.

ATTACK OF THE SNACK

From the Rabbit & Bear series

A sudden new arrival prompts a flare of xenophobia in Bear’s excitable lapine buddy.

Any resemblance to current affairs must, of course, be coincidental. Once the tiny feathered stranger who has crashed into a tree and fallen unconscious is identified as an owl, Rabbit, who has never met one before, is terrified. “Owls…eat you ALIVE! And the next day they BURP UP YOUR BONES!” he shouts. “Lock her up!” Failing in her effort to defuse the panic (“One bone at a time, or all of them at once?”), Bear sadly wanders off in search of blueberries as Rabbit proceeds to whip the other forest creatures into a frenzy. Happily, all ends well after Owl wakes up and calmly explains that she is a small burrowing owl who eats only fruit and bugs—mostly dung beetles. Embarrassed, Rabbit and the rest apologize and pitch in to furnish the owl with a comfy new home…liberally daubed with blueberry poo (Bear’s contribution) that, to the amazement of all, instantly attracts, as Owl puts it, “Fast foooooo…foooooo…fooooood!” Bear and Rabbit agree that everyone’s “normal on the outside” and “weird on the inside”—“And that’s OK.” Woodsy duotone scenes on nearly every page feature comically wide-eyed creatures of diverse size and species looking amazed, panic-stricken, or, in Owl’s case, disarmingly cute.

A pointed jab at wanton fearmongering, lightened by a bit of philosophy and rather a lot of gas. (Animal fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68412-617-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE SCHOOLS

From the My Purple World series

A color-themed vision of what school should be like.

In what amounts to a rehash of The World Needs More Purple People (2020), Bell and Hart address adult as well as young readers to explain what “curious and kind you” can do to make school, or for that matter the universe, a better place. Again culminating in the vague but familiar “JUST. BE. YOU!” the program remains much the same—including asking questions both “universe-sized” (“Could you make a burrito larger than a garbage truck?”) and “smaller, people-sized” (i.e., personal), working hard to learn and make things, offering praise and encouragement, speaking up and out, laughing together, and listening to others. In the illustrations, light-skinned, blond-haired narrator Penny poses amid a busy, open-mouthed, diverse cast that includes a child wearing a hijab and one who uses a wheelchair. Wiseman opts to show fewer grown-ups here, but the children are the same as in the earlier book, and a scene showing two figures blowing chocolate milk out of their noses essentially recycles a visual joke from the previous outing. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43490-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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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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