Compelling characters in a story that’s too short for them

READ REVIEW

NYA'S LONG WALK

A STEP AT A TIME

Calamity strikes when two sisters take a trek outside of their village in South Sudan to fetch water in this picture-book adaptation of the bestselling A Long Walk to Water (2010).

Nya, the elder, notices that Akeer is becoming uncharacteristically tearful, then listless. On the titular long walk back, Nya realizes her sister is gravely ill and must struggle to carry both Akeer and the water, going step by step, landmark by landmark. When they return, Nya learns that Akeer must be taken to the clinic, a journey of two to three days on foot, because she “has the sickness that comes from drinking dirty water.” Exhausted but determined, Nya sets off on the journey with her mother and sister—and that is where the story ends. The three pages that follow combine the fictional story of Nya and Akeer with the true story of Salva Dut and his organization, Water for South Sudan. It explains what’s happened to Akeer and that clean-water wells eventually come to Nya’s village, but it is not an adequate conclusion for this story that began so full of compassion, sacrifice, and love. Curious readers will wonder what the journey was like for the mother and her daughters and what Akeer felt as she recovered, but that is left to their imaginations. Pinkney’s swirling brush strokes, dominated by brown, terra cotta, and gold, indicate the desert landscape, focusing on the children’s tired, stoic faces.

Compelling characters in a story that’s too short for them . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-78133-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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