Abracadabra! Lovely magic indeed.

READ REVIEW

THE MITZVAH MAGICIAN

Whenever Gabriel the great magician commands “Presto Magico,” a small disaster occurs.

His magic wand is his tool of choice to empty a glass and make his sister disappear. But to achieve these ends, he knocks over the glass and pokes his sister. Mom gives him a time out and sets him to thinking about using his magic to do mitzvot, or good deeds. He decides that his magic needs some "Jewish words," so he comes up with “One-wish! Two-wish! Jew-wish!” as his new mantra. He carefully cleans the mess in the kitchen, puts his toys away and sets the table for snack time. With waves of his wand and his new magic words, he astonishes his mother with the amazing transformation and a new purpose for his magic. Marshall evokes gentle humor in this tale of a very believable little boy whose infatuation with a new toy leads to overzealous enthusiasm followed by remorse and creative atonement. The introduction of key Yiddish words (in both singular and plural) is accomplished seamlessly and serves to stress the universality of this family’s experiences rather than emphasizing any cultural differences. (Though it's too bad the text does not correctly cite the language as Yiddish, instead of "Jewish.") Engel’s brightly hued, delightfully detailed illustrations ably capture the action while maintaining a slightly skewed playfulness that is enhanced by the casual typeface, coloring and spacing of the text.

Abracadabra! Lovely magic indeed. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7613-5655-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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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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Lost and found was never so riotously funny or emotionally draining.

DON'T FORGET DEXTER!

A lost toy goes through an existential crisis.

The setup is on the copyright page. Amid the markers of a universally recognizable waiting room—fish tank, chairs against the wall, receptionist’s window, kids’ coloring table—is a tiny orange T. Rex with a dialogue balloon: “Hello?” A turn of the page brings Dexter T. Rexter into close view, and he explains his dilemma directly to readers. He and his best friend came for a checkup, but Jack’s disappeared. Maybe readers can help? But when Jack is still MIA, Dexter becomes disconsolate, believing his friend might have left him behind on purpose; maybe he likes another toy better? Dexter weighs his good qualities against those he lacks, and he comes up short. But when readers protest (indicated by a change in Dexter’s tone after the turn of the page), Dexter gains the determination he needs to make a plan. Unfortunately, though hilariously, his escape plan fails. But luckily, a just-as-upset black boy comes looking for Dexter, and the two are reunited. Ward’s ink, colored-pencil, and cut-paper illustrations give readers a toy’s view of the world and allow children to stomp in Dexter’s feet for a while, his facial expressions giving them lots of clues to his feelings. Readers will be reminded of both Knuffle Bunny and Scaredy Squirrel, but Dexter is a character all his own.

Lost and found was never so riotously funny or emotionally draining. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4727-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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