Instead of breaking bones, this warrior princess breaks the mold—and Beaton is in a class of her own.

THE PRINCESS AND THE PONY

A half-pint warrior princess wants a battle-ready horse for her birthday but instead receives a little farting pony—who brilliantly defies all expectation.

Pinecone is small and young, and normally she receives cozy sweaters for presents, but she has a warrior’s determination. With this, she attempts to train her sweet, round pony—but to no avail. They are clearly outmatched at the big battle, yet Pinecone shows her mettle, and under the pony’s innocent gaze, hardened warriors melt into sweater-wearing softies. The artist’s digital illustrations, done in an earthy palette, have a warm, handcrafted feel. As majestic horses, iconic warriors (from Genghis Khan to Robin Hood), and cool tools are juxtaposed with Pinecone and her vacant-eyed pony, differences in stature, weaponry, and achievement are cleverly emphasized. Cinematic in layout and perfectly set-dressed, each page will elicit a new round of giggles. Beaton blurs the boundaries of traditional storytelling, marrying fantasy elements to pop culture with a free-associative swagger. This emerging genre, with its zinelike irreverence and joyful comedy, is hip, modern, and absolutely refreshing. Where else can readers find hipster warriors, anime influences, perfectly placed fart jokes, a hidden ugly-sweater contest, and a skirmish packed with delightful nonsense (llamas! knights! hot dogs! turtle costumes!)—and have it all make such wonderful sense?

Instead of breaking bones, this warrior princess breaks the mold—and Beaton is in a class of her own. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: June 30, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-63708-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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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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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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