Cozy—and potentially provocative.

READ REVIEW

WINTERCAKE

A snowstorm, a missing basket of fruit, a misunderstanding, and an act of kindness lead to a warm winter tradition.

Thomas, a light-brown furry creature (maybe a groundhog), tells his yellow-feathered friend Lucy that he must have misplaced the basket that contained the fruit he’d intended to bake into his winter cake. “How mysterious,” Lucy says when Thomas tells her about the basket. But Lucy must hurry to get home, as the snow has begun to fall thickly, and she flies off into the wind. She collides with a tree branch and is momentarily stunned, then takes shelter in a cozy tea room to recover. There, everyone is talking about the weather except for one dark brown–furred fellow (perhaps a pine marten) who mentions that he’s found a basket of fruit. Lucy leaps to conclusions and trails him as he departs, all the way to Thomas’ door, where he reunites Thomas and basket. Lucy is embarrassed by her suspicious thoughts. The simple story of her realization and her attempt to make amends is told in deliciously rich language so porous it opens up glorious possibilities for the illustrations: “there were obstacles.” Perkins’ art, with its warm yellows, opulent blues, and soft browns of wintry forest and cozy dens, nicely complements the fine narrative arc. This could simply be a splendid holiday tale: There is cake, after all, and there are both connection and community. But the different colorings of the animals’ coats combine with light-feathered Lucy’s false, if unspoken, accusation of innocent, dark-brown Tobin to offer an allegorical storyline for readers who care to pursue it.

Cozy—and potentially provocative. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-289487-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How to Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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