Although this husband and wife team put forth a good effort, the characters have only mild appeal when compared to the likes...


From the Petal and Poppy series

Good friends Petal and Poppy alternate fears during Halloween night in their third series adventure.

Costumed as a horned, red, furry monster, rhino Poppy sneaks up on unsuspecting Petal to scare her. The incident leaves elephant Petal spooked and resistant to wearing a scary costume like her buddy. Poppy coaxes her into joining in, and Petal decides to dress up like a butterfly. Sharing a bicycle while on their way to a Halloween party, Petal is easily frightened by the costumed characters they encounter. Brave Poppy reminds Petal, “Do not be a scaredy-cat. They are only costumes.” A sudden crash leaves the pair stranded in front of a spooky house. Poppy is sure someone inside can help, but upon entering, Poppy’s nerve begins to weaken. (Petal remains outside.) While Poppy wanders inside, becoming increasingly frightened, a real ghost floats out to greet Petal. Thinking it is just a costume, Petal asks the creature for help fixing their bike. Clough’s use of repeated phrases will help build confidence in emergent readers, while Briant’s paneled cartoon illustrations ably show the swift and slightly comic role reversal. All ends well as creatures in costumes along with the real ghost gather at the Halloween party.

Although this husband and wife team put forth a good effort, the characters have only mild appeal when compared to the likes of Elephant and Piggie or Frog and Toad. (Graphic early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-33602-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.


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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As insubstantial as hot air.


A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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