An interplanetary lovefest with sprinkles of astro-fact embedded in the goo.

HEART ON PLUTO

Greetings from the New Horizons space probe—which has a big surprise to share about the dwarf planet Pluto.

Giveaway title notwithstanding, the personified probe does a good job setting up the climactic revelation with an account of its long, long journey past Jupiter and the other outer planets and a simple introduction to Pluto’s changing official status. Upon arrival the narrator burbles, “I made it!” and sends an image of the huge, heart-shaped nitrogen lake that is Pluto’s most prominent physical feature back to Earth, “It’s so cute!” Ross, in contrast to his realization of the dusty setting of Sara Schonfeld’s Birthday on Mars (2019), gives the encounter a warm and informal air by rendering the planets and probe with spongy surfaces, as if they were constructed out of blocks of colored foam, and the heart with sharp, nearly symmetrical borders so that it looks cut out and pasted onto Pluto’s surface. Though Saturn is tilted in an early view he does depict the planet with rings seen edge on in a later one, which may confuse some viewers. Also, though Jones closes with a bulleted fact list, he goes for mush over wonder at the end with multiple exclamations about how Pluto loves us, and Earth loves it back. Human figures are diverse throughout; one classroom group includes a child wearing a hijab.

An interplanetary lovefest with sprinkles of astro-fact embedded in the goo. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09629-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 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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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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