Quiet and reflective, as fleeting as summertime itself.

READ REVIEW

THE HOUSE AT THE END OF THE ROAD

Three cousins come upon an old house and find something they never expected.

It’s summer vacation, so Patrick and his sibling, the narrator, take the bus as they always do to visit Grandma; their rambunctious cousin Robert is already there. The trio gathers Grandma’s old bikes to cycle around town, eventually coming across a dilapidated house. They decide to get closer. Robert dares to throw a rock at one of the windows. A spooky ghost face appears! The kids high-tail it off the property, Patrick jumping on behind the narrator and accidentally leaving his bike behind. When Grandma finds out what happened, she takes them all back to the house to apologize. The kids learn that the figure in the window wasn’t a ghost at all but a person. In fact, they may have all just made a new friend. Related in the unnamed sibling’s first-person, past-tense narration, this Canadian import is ultimately a sweet story of intergenerational friendship. The comic-book–panel layout, coupled with Rust’s mixed-media cartoon illustrations, gives a cinematic quality that builds suspense with each page turn. Speech bubbles provide additional details to the account, which reads like a reminiscence, through sparse dialogue. The colors, switching from bright and summery to spookily desaturated, evoke emotion. While the red-haired, freckled narrator character presents white, the others have darker, more ambiguous coloring.

Quiet and reflective, as fleeting as summertime itself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77147-335-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Looking for a spud-tacular read? Starch here.

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THE COUCH POTATO

Can a couch potato peel themself off their beloved, comfortable couch?

John and Oswald’s titular spud certainly finds it very hard to do so. Why should they leave their “comfy, cozy couch” when everything that’s needed is within reach? Their doodads and gadgets to amuse and entertain, their couch’s extendable gloved hands to grab food from the kitchen, and screens upon screens to watch their favorite TV shows (highlights: MadYam, Fries), play their favorite video games, and livestream their friends. Where’s the need to leave the living room? Then…“PEW-WWWWWWW”! The electricity goes out one day. Left without screens and gizmos, the couch potato decides to take dog Tater “for a walk…outside,” where the trees and birds and skies seem rich, “like a high-resolution 156-inch curved screen, but even more realistic.” The outdoor experience proves cathartic and freeing, away from those cords that bind, liberating enough to commit this couch potato to spending more time off the couch. Similar to The Bad Seed (2017), The Good Egg (2019), and The Cool Bean (2019) in small-scale scope and moral learning, this latest guidebook to life retains John’s attention to textual goodness, balancing good-humored laughs with a sincere conversational tone that immediately pulls readers in. Naturally, Oswald’s succinct artwork—loaded with genial spuds, metatextual nods, and cool aloofness—continues this loose series’ winsome spirit. No counterarguments here, couch potatoes. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 65.9% of actual size.)

Looking for a spud-tacular read? Starch here. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-295453-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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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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