PENNY AND HER MARBLE

From the Penny series

Whose marble is it?

In this third early reader about a little anthropomorphic mouse named Penny, Henkes continues to plumb the emotional world of childhood as few author/illustrators can. The story begins with Penny taking a walk and pushing her beloved doll, Rose, in a stroller. She heeds Mama’s admonition that she “[o]nly go as far as Mrs. Goodwin’s house,” and when she arrives there, she spies a shiny blue marble at the edge of the lawn. Though unsure whether she should do so, Penny pockets the glinting little orb and scurries home. Later, Penny’s conscience bothers her, and the marble hidden in her drawer adopts a presence akin to Poe’s telltale heart. She can’t bring herself to tell her concerned parents what is bothering her, and after a fitful night’s sleep, she goes for another walk to return the marble. Hoping to make a quick getaway after surreptitiously replacing it, Penny is worried when her neighbor approaches. Will Mrs. Goodwin be angry that she took the marble? As it turns out, Mrs. Goodwin purposefully put the marble on her lawn in the hope that someone would find it and take it home as a little treasure. Reassured, Penny thanks Mrs. Goodwin and walks home, imagining herself beside a sea as blue as her new marble. Henkes’ characteristically meticulous vignettes both expand the story and provide picture clues to help new readers along.

Another gem. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-208203-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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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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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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