An important story about bullying despite the relatively simple resolution.

GENIE MEANIE

From the Orca Echoes series

When 8-year-old Kiara Prasad finds a genie trapped in a bottle, she looks forward to wishing away her big problem at school: Matt, the bully.

Kiara recently lost her grandmother, and no one—including her grandfather visiting from India, her parents, and her best friend, Bai Leng—can ease her pain. To make matters worse, Kiara’s grandmother was the only one who truly understood how mean some of the other kids at school could be. While going through some of the odds and ends her grandmother left her, Kiara finds a bottle labeled Zayn Garam Masala; when she opens the bottle, she unwittingly releases a genie, Zayn. Kiara is initially excited, as she hopes Zayn can help her take care of Matt, but the genie claims to be on vacation and refuses to grant her any wishes. Without the promise of magic, Kiara must summon the courage to stand up to Matt’s bullying once and for all. Most of the characters are people of color: The protagonist and her family are Indian, Zayn is presumably Muslim, and Bai is Chinese; Matt is white. While Narsimhan’s dialogue does not always sound authentically childlike, the issue of bullying is portrayed realistically though resolved easily. Simpson’s cute cartoons in black and white are interspersed throughout the narrative, supporting the text and providing readers with some visual humor.

An important story about bullying despite the relatively simple resolution. (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2398-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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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