Keep rowing: there are islands aplenty with more to offer.

THE ISLAND OF GRUMP

A rhymed warning about the hazards of holding on to a snit.

Lamb, a pop songwriter, describes the titular island in stilted verse: “The Island of Grump / is a far away place // Where no one is happy / Not one smile per face.” He warns that it’s hard to get off (because “the sea will scowl / and the sky will pout”), fun and friends are just memories at best, and lingering will result in being crowned a king “on a stump,” ruling all alone. But partway through he reveals that he really has anger rather than grouchiness in mind, which Buckner inscrutably betokens with two toys, one broken, in the accompanying picture. In the digitally slick and unsubtle illustrations, a scowling lad with light skin rows his way to an island populated by frowning figures that resemble crosses between robots and tiki gods. There, he visualizes friends (one with very dark skin and hair) searching for him in vain and ends up clad in robe and crown, staring out to sea. A crabby-looking crab can also be spotted on most pages. The lack of emotional resolution (not to mention the writing) leaves this cautionary opus looking superficial next to the more therapeutic likes of Where the Wild Things Are or Hiawyn Oram and Satoshi Kitamura’s Angry Arthur (1982).

Keep rowing: there are islands aplenty with more to offer. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943978-00-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Persnickety Press

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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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