There may be plenty more adventures for Octicorn; here’s hoping that they’ll be more amusing than awkward—unlike this...

READ REVIEW

HELLO, MY NAME IS OCTICORN

The offspring of an octopus mom and a unicorn dad, Octicorn really needs a friend.

With a grim expression, line-drawn body, and mismatched eyes, Octi is still a cute little critter with remarkable self-awareness. Octi is sad to be the only one without an invitation to a cupcake party—and grasps how unusual it is to be one-of-a-kind as a species. Octi speculates about how Mom and Dad may have met ("maybe a personal ad") and reveals the perils and bonuses of having four legs and a sharp protrusion from the head. The playground merry-go-round is a challenge, but juggling and roasting marshmallows are a snap. What Octi doesn't do, unfortunately, is narrate a story that goes beyond the novelty of a book-length character introduction. By the book's end, all readers know about Octi is that it's exceptionally lonely, and not in an endearing way that invites more interest. Rather, Octi seems desperate in a way that makes the concluding invitation for hugs and friendship a call for pity instead of excitement. The doodle-simple illustrations, which seem to have been enhanced with some splashes of color in the book’s transition from self-published Kickstarter project to major publisher release, only add to the feeling that this was a thin idea unable to transcend its one-joke premise.

There may be plenty more adventures for Octicorn; here’s hoping that they’ll be more amusing than awkward—unlike this introduction. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 24, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-238793-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

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THE DAY YOU BEGIN

School-age children encounter and overcome feelings of difference from their peers in the latest picture book from Woodson.

This nonlinear story centers on Angelina, with big curly hair and brown skin, as she begins the school year with a class share-out of summer travels. Text and illustrations effectively work together to convey her feelings of otherness as she reflects on her own summer spent at home: “What good is this / when others were flying,” she ponders while leaning out her city window forlornly watching birds fly past to seemingly faraway places. López’s incorporation of a ruler for a door, table, and tree into the illustrations creatively extends the metaphor of measuring up to others. Three other children—Rigoberto, a recent immigrant from Venezuela; a presumably Korean girl with her “too strange” lunch of kimchi, meat, and rice; and a lonely white boy in what seems to be a suburb—experience more-direct teasing for their outsider status. A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference.

A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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