Excellent, believable advice, with boxes—what could be better than that? (Picture book. 4-8)

BIG FRIENDS

For those few blighted souls out there who are unaware of this fact, cardboard boxes are a kid’s answer to pretty much everything.

Birt and Etho are a couple of mites with a couple of nice-sized boxes that can launch friendships—and lots of other ships: pirate, flagships, and submarines. Each day they drag the boxes up Sudden Hill and become kings, astronauts, naturalists watching the world go by, ant by ant. Sarah is not goopy with the language, though its pleasing atmosphere can get somewhat filigreed: “Birt loves their two-by-two rhythm.” As will happen, “one Monday morning (it’s cramping cold) they meet another box-carrier.” Etho is ready for a comrade, Birt not so. Indeed, Birt retreats home one night and jumps on his box until it’s flat as an album cover. Birt ignores Shu and Etho’s entreaties to come and play, until...they arrive with a box contraption built for three. It’s a crazy Rube Goldberg device, clattering, careening, crashing: it’s Mr. ClimbFierce or sometimes a Monster-Creature-Box Thing. Of course it is. Birt “loves their three-by-three rhythm. / It’s new. And it’s good.” Davies’ alluring rustic-looking artwork with just the right slants of light salve this story considerably.

Excellent, believable advice, with boxes—what could be better than that? (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-330-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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