This urban fable encourages readers to claim their space but may provoke more questions than answers.

LUCI SOARS

Who needs shadows anyway?

Luci certainly doesn’t. But soon people start noticing that even in the brightest of sunlight, Luci is missing hers. From the time she is a baby, she is hyperaware that people are judging her. As a toddler, she learns to walk in the shadows of others. However, one day at school she stops huddling in the gloom and ventures into the light. The cruel taunts of classmates drive her first to tears and then to rebellion. Finding herself no longer anchored to the ground by shadows of people or things, she soars through the city and experiences the liberating power of just being herself, taking on vibrant color that contrasts with the black-and-white world around her. Delacre’s sparse text reads more as a stream of consciousness than a story. Punctuated by a smattering of Spanish, Luci’s thoughts range from disjointed musings to powerful observations: “Mean shadows pointed. / Mean shadows laughed. / Mean shadows stared / their icy stares.” The illustrations also meander in quality, from the strikingly textured shadows to an inconsistently portrayed Luci. Peculiarly, an image of Luci crawling is partnered with the line, “But I grew up.” Luci’s apparent age continues to weirdly fluctuate—when she’s walking with her mother after the flying adventure, she appears younger than when she’s soaring. She then appears as a preteen in the final panel. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

This urban fable encourages readers to claim their space but may provoke more questions than answers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984812-88-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE SCHOOLS

From the My Purple World series

A color-themed vision of what school should be like.

In what amounts to a rehash of The World Needs More Purple People (2020), Bell and Hart address adult as well as young readers to explain what “curious and kind you” can do to make school, or for that matter the universe, a better place. Again culminating in the vague but familiar “JUST. BE. YOU!” the program remains much the same—including asking questions both “universe-sized” (“Could you make a burrito larger than a garbage truck?”) and “smaller, people-sized” (i.e., personal), working hard to learn and make things, offering praise and encouragement, speaking up and out, laughing together, and listening to others. In the illustrations, light-skinned, blond-haired narrator Penny poses amid a busy, open-mouthed, diverse cast that includes a child wearing a hijab and one who uses a wheelchair. Wiseman opts to show fewer grown-ups here, but the children are the same as in the earlier book, and a scene showing two figures blowing chocolate milk out of their noses essentially recycles a visual joke from the previous outing. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43490-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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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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