An amiable continuation of the series.

READ REVIEW

NO PLACE LIKE SPACE

From the How to Be an Earthling series , Vol. 5

With the school carnival approaching, why isn’t Spork excited about it?

Galaxy Scout Spork has been learning about Earth and earthlings in Mrs. Buckle’s third-grade class for a while now. In this volume, the rest of the class is focused on planning the school carnival, but Spork seems a bit reticent. When Mrs. Buckle brings kindness into the discussion, Trixie Lopez wants to prove “she could be the kindest kid in the whole third grade,” but it’s not so easy. Thinking Spork is homesick, she proposes a space theme for the carnival, but far from making him happy, it seems to worry him. Will Trixie find a way to be kind? And what is bothering Spork? This kindness-themed entry in the How to Be an Earthling series, which focuses on character traits, is a bit convoluted; simultaneously released volumes Alien in the Outfield, by Lori Haskins Houran (perseverance), May the Votes Be with You, by Harkrader (citizenship), and Money Doesn’t Grow on Mars, by Houran (self-control) integrate their lessons a bit more seamlessly. However, readers new to chapters likely won’t notice and will identify with the ethnically diverse denizens of Mrs. Buckle’s class. Series illustrator Warrick contributes many black-and-white cartoon illustrations of wide-eyed, expressive kids with different skin tones; Trixie has medium-brown skin, and Mrs. Buckle is black. Activities in the backmatter round out the lessons.

An amiable continuation of the series. (Science fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-57565-847-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Kane Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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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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