Bland, hypercautious, and sloppy.



A set of rhymed riddles sends young Mason pelting through a natural history museum in search of both solutions and the best place for his birthday sleepover.

Joined by friends Will and Zoe at the museum’s entrance, Mason starts out with a “Dino Fossil Dig” in the Discovery Room’s sandbox. Equipped with headlamps and a fold-out map, the kids then dash down darkened halls (museum employee Jesse in tow) to marvel at models of Saturn, a T. Rex, and a dodo; wild-animal exhibits; live butterflies; and other wonders. After winding up in the party room for cake, Mason and his pals bed down beneath a huge blue whale suspended from the ceiling. As the explorers somehow never get to the Hall of Human Origins or the ethnographic exhibits marked on the endpaper floor plans, this has its limits as a model itinerary for a visit to a real science museum, where evolutionary science is covered and, perhaps, some humans are uncovered. More problematically, the illustrations mislead or include actual errors: “Just look at the diamonds sparkle!” Zoe enthuses, gazing at a jumble of large, elongated blue crystals. Elsewhere, a set of “extinct predators” includes two herbivores, a group labeled “African Elephant” seems to include at least two of the Asian subspecies, and all of the visible exhibits in the Hall of Dinosaurs are fleshed-out models rather than skeletons. A substantial list of natural history and other types of museums with sleepover programs at the end offers leads to more authentic experiences. Mason and Zoe present white; Will presents black; and Jesse presents Asian.

Bland, hypercautious, and sloppy. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7140-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


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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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.


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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