A heartfelt, lovely evocation of one facet of the immigrant experience.

GITTEL'S JOURNEY

AN ELLIS ISLAND STORY

In the last years of the 19th century, 9-year-old Gittel must make the long journey to America alone.

She and Mama say their goodbyes to their family and set off on the trek to the port where they will board the ship to a new world. But Mama is denied passage because of an eye infection. Her mother reminds her that she must be brave, so Gittel gets on the ship alone for the long, frightening journey, clutching the family candlesticks, her rag doll, and that most important slip of paper containing cousin Mendel’s address in New York. Upon arriving at Ellis Island, Mendel’s address is smeared and unreadable, so she is detained there. A kind Yiddish interpreter and a newspaper photographer save the day by placing her photo in a Jewish newspaper, and Mendel comes to claim her. Even greater joy comes when she is reunited with her mother several months later. The tale is based on a combination of stories handed down in the author’s family. Newman tells Gittel’s story with sympathy and tenderness, incorporating Jewish phrases (italicized) and customs and placing within it facts about that time and place. Gittel’s every emotion is felt in Bates’ soft, earth-toned, framed illustrations reminiscent of old-time sepia photographs. Block-print decorations in blue, green, and rust enhance the setting.

A heartfelt, lovely evocation of one facet of the immigrant experience. (glossary, bibliography, websites) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2747-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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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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