This beautifully illustrated, imaginative story demands patient, willing readers.

LITTLE PEARL

Grace, a teenage girl, tells Daniel, a little boy, an exciting bedtime story.

It’s an adventure that really happened to Grace (or did it?) when she “was younger than [Daniel], when every day was as bright as this pearl.” As she shows the boy a glowing pearl ring, she tells him that her older brother disappeared. She describers their close relationship, which centered on playing their hand-carved flutes together; here, an unearthly double-page spread shows an angelic boy playing a flute while a girl sadly sits on the instrument’s end. Dziubak’s talents are on display in this haunting picture. The wordy, meandering story, translated from Swedish, is less successful. When sledding, Grace “skid[s] into an icy tunnel” and emerges as a small figure in summer clothes surrounded by large insects with a conspicuously odd manner of speech. Taken captive by a crab, she must collect pearls, using a stick to wedge open the clams (not oysters). She follows the sound of Tom’s flute wafting from a cave, where he introduces her to three other child captives. (One has brown skin and black hair; all other humans present white.) Resourceful Grace has a plan. Using their wedging sticks against the crab, they escape, stop to grab five pearls, and find themselves back in their world. Grace has her brother’s praise, a wondrous story, and a beautiful ring to boot.

This beautifully illustrated, imaginative story demands patient, willing readers. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-178250-599-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Floris

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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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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