THANKSGIVING DAY THANKS

Sam has trouble thinking of what he is most grateful for when his class celebrates Thanksgiving, and Elliott has trouble sustaining the focus on group relationships begun with Sam’s first outing (A String of Hearts, 2010).

Sam’s classmates have no difficulty giving thanks for football, sweet potatoes and shopping. Led by Mrs. Wright, the class discusses the first Thanksgiving (Native Americans taught Pilgrims to plant and hunt; Pilgrims celebrated their friendship and the harvest with a feast). Then the students brainstorm ways to celebrate—costumes, food, crafts and a yarn turkey whose feathers are made up of the students’ thanks—but that only increases Sam’s anxiety. He does manage to think of something for the day of the feast, but will the wind steal it? Mary Ann’s bow-and-arrow practice pays off, rescuing at least part of Sam’s surprise, and Sam now knows just what to write on not one, but two feathers. It’s just too bad more of the book doesn't focus on the close relationships among the students. One page of backmatter tells more about the relationship between the Native Americans and the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, while another provides some facts about the modern-day Thanksgiving celebration. Munsinger’s sweet, enthusiastic and diverse anthropomorphized animal cast is quite busy with individual projects, which all turn out, rather unrealistically, spectacularly. With its wide variety of activities and crafts, this is sure to spark some classroom celebration ideas, though it otherwise doesn’t stand out from other holiday titles. (Picture book. 4-8)

 

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-000236-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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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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