Dog owners who dread being apart during school hours will empathize with Stella Isabella.

KISSES FOR KINDERGARTEN

A little girl decides kindergarten isn’t for her and decides to stay home and have her beloved yellow pup teach her instead.

Indeed, Stella Isabella Harden and her dog, Buster, are inseparable, but aside from leaving him behind, the girl doesn’t seem to have any specific worries about kindergarten. Dog school consists of playtime, snack time, nap time, and storytime, and it’s during this last that Buster slyly lets Stella Isabella know that she really must go to kindergarten, if only so she can learn to read—Buster must have a story every day. Crouse’s rhyming verses sometimes stumble, and the words and word order frequently suit the rhyme scheme and meter rather than the tale, leading to some difficult vocabulary (“contemplating,” “educator,” “proposing,” “proceeding,” “mandatory”) and some clunkers: “She figured they’d do playtime first. / She guessed that they’d be none the worse / if in the room for their first class / came with sunshine, air, and grass.” Pamintuan’s digital illustrations bring out the duo’s love and their exuberance, and he shows each sloppy kiss from Buster to his girl. Child and parents all have black hair and pale-brown skin. The kindergarten-ready checklist—supplies rather than skills—is inside the dust jacket and isn’t applicable to (or affordable for) all students: “big-kid backpack,” other supplies, “know your bus stop,” “snack or lunch.”

Dog owners who dread being apart during school hours will empathize with Stella Isabella. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62686-703-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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