Fast-paced, with supersimple vocabulary and a smattering of earth science to spark interest in young rock collectors...

JADA JONES, ROCK STAR

From the Jada Jones series , Vol. 1

Easy to read and sprinkled with science, a contemporary tale of friendship, loss, acceptance, and learning how to be who you are and rock what you’ve got.

Jada Jones will remind caregivers of that time when the outdoors was fascinating. Who doesn’t remember collecting rocks as a kid? Even though Jada is in fourth grade, the language and tempo of the book are best suited to emergent readers new to chapter books. It’s an engaging tale about a little black girl whose best friend has moved away. When her mom advises Jada to try making new friends, Jada soon learns that two is company but three might be a crowd. Jada must maneuver through the minefield of new friends vs. old friends while working on a class project about rocks. She also struggles with jealousy from someone afraid Jada is trying to steal her best friend. Brantley-Newton’s illustrations of Jada, her African-American family, and her classmates, mostly children of color, are fun and inspiring, reminiscent of Sophie Blackall’s whimsical, wide-eyed depictions in the Ivy + Bean series. In fact, this first in the Jada Jones series feels very much like the perfect fit for fans of Ivy + Bean or Clementine, as Lyons sprinkles her latest character with warmth and a touch of sass. Sequel Class Act publishes simultaneously.

Fast-paced, with supersimple vocabulary and a smattering of earth science to spark interest in young rock collectors everywhere . (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-448-48751-9

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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