Combining inviting storytelling with a warm message of friendship and accountability, this entry is a welcome addition to a...

THE NEW KID

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 5

English and Freeman’s Carver Chronicles kids make the acquaintance of a mysterious and self-assured new kid in town. All goes awry when a prized bike goes missing.

The series has built a strong track record of providing chapter-book readers with great family-oriented stories, and this book is no different. The tales center on the misadventures of the young boys in Ms. Shelby-Ortiz’s diverse class, which now has a new student. Meet African-American Khufu, with a name as big and historic as the stories he likes to tell. Let Khufu tell it, and his time in Room Ten comes after a string of schools; at his most recent “everyone…was a genius.” This “genius school” is just too much for Gavin, the African-American boy whose perspective the third-person narration conveys. The questionable truth of Khufu’s stories becomes an even greater focus once Gavin’s prized blue-and-white bike goes missing from the school bike rack and Khufu arrives with a very similar bike spray-painted orange. Hmm. At home, Great Aunt Myrtle (GAM for short) wisely reminds Gavin to not go making assumptions, but that’s just not enough to please Gavin and his pals. They are planning to do much more than ask the fantastical Khufu about the origins of his new, messily painted bike. But what they don’t know will sure surprise them in the end.

Combining inviting storytelling with a warm message of friendship and accountability, this entry is a welcome addition to a pretty near perfect series for independent readers. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-328-70399-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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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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Cool beans indeed.

THE COOL BEAN

A supposed “has-bean” shows that coolness has more to do with deeds than demeanor.

Offering further moral instruction in this leguminous cousin to The Bad Seed (2017) and The Good Egg (2019), Oswald portrays three beans—each a different species but all sporting boss shades, fly threads, and that requisite air of nonchalance—bringing the cool to streets, hallways, playgrounds, and Leguma Beach. Meanwhile, a fourth (a scraggly-haired chickpea), whose efforts to echo the look and the ’tude have fallen flat, takes on the role of nerdy narrator to recall “olden days” when they all hung out in the same pod. Still, despite rolling separate ways (nobody’s fault: “That’s just how it is sometimes. You spend less time together, even though you’re not totally sure why”), when the uncool bean drops a lunch tray, skins a kid knee on the playground, or just needs a hint in class, one of the others is always on the scene toot suite. No biggie. And passing those casual acts of kindness forward? “Now that’s cool.” John’s good-hearted text makes some hay with the bean puns while Oswald’s pipe-stemmed limbs, googly eyes, and accessories give these anthropomorphic legumes lots of personality. As a fava to young audiences, pair with Jamie Michalak and Frank Kolar’s Frank and Bean (2019) for a musical combination.

Cool beans indeed. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-295452-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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