Gentle, comforting bibliotherapy.

REMEMBERING ETHAN

A family begins healing following a devastating loss.

Sarah lovingly remembers big brother Ethan, who has died. Mommy and Daddy won’t talk or reminisce about him; neither wants to hear his name. Small acts offer solace: saying Ethan’s name aloud, writing his name, drawing his picture. When Sarah hangs the drawing on the refrigerator, Mommy and Daddy, distraught, leave the room. When Sarah angrily shouts that no one else seems to miss or remember Ethan, Mommy and Daddy must finally confront their pain. In doing so, they rehang the drawing in a more prominent location and gently explain that it’s grief that’s made them seem unfeeling. Poring over a family album allows everyone to openly share happy memories. The upbeat ending of this well-written, reassuring tale feels a tad rushed, and there’s no sense of how much time has elapsed since Ethan’s death. However, the author gets two important plot points just right. The circumstances surrounding Ethan’s death aren’t mentioned, suggesting the family (all depicted with pale skin and dark hair) is heartbroken simply because Ethan has died; as in real life, one cause is no less wrenching than another. Furthermore, the child has real agency; Sarah effects change in the family dynamic that leads to cathartic healing. The delicate illustrations are expressive and effective. Useful psychologist’s tips in the backmatter guide adults in helping children discuss the death of a family member.

Gentle, comforting bibliotherapy. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3113-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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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