An inclusive, be-yourself party—with cupcakes—can’t help but succeed.

OCTICORN PARTY!

Will Octicorn’s party be a success?

Octicorn loves pool parties and is planning one, but the horned cephalopod worries no one will show. Octicorn invites Unicorn, who says, “If there are rainbows to fly over. I’m in.” Octicorn is happy Unicorn will attend. Turtle says he will come if no one talks—he’s shy. Seahorse will come only if Unicorn is not invited. Snail will attend only if there is break dancing. Lion wants to eat the other guests, but Octicorn doesn’t think that’s a good idea. Woodchuck, of course, will come if there is wood to chuck. Octicorn is happy so many creatures will be there…until the hapless host realizes that many of the guests’ stipulations are mutually exclusive; there’s no way to satisfy them all. So Octicorn decides to have “a do what you want, be who you are, no matter what anyone else thinks, party instead.” And a good time is clearly being had by all—except Lion, who cannot attend but is given a cupcake to eat outside. Creators Diller and Lowe go beyond the one-joke core of Octi’s introduction in Hello, My Name Is Octicorn (2016) to present a tale of social awkwardness with dryly deadpan humor that the painfully shy, in particular, will identify with. Mulholland’s childlike scribbly doodle art replicates the look of the first book (done by Lowe with Binny Talib), and with its occasional splashes of color, it fits the tale and reinforces the tone.

An inclusive, be-yourself party—with cupcakes—can’t help but succeed. (Picture book. 3-9)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-238794-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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