A useful tool for instigating socio-emotional discussions with children despite the muddied metaphor.



Regulating emotions can feel like a never-ending boxing match.

Simon doesn’t know what to do; he’s lost his temper at school again. Uncle Richard, who moved in with the family when Dad left, says there are lots of different puppets inside of Simon representing different aspects of his personality. There’s Simon the Fearful, dreading the consequences of his actions; Simon the Arrogant, who hurls insults at his classmates; Simon the Good Student, who makes comics in art class; and so many more. Like boxers, they compete for dominance. Uncle Richard reminds Simon that all the puppets can be useful, but only at the right time. The key is to listen to the “little referee” inside to make the right decisions. It won’t be easy, but Uncle Richard is proud of Simon for continuing to work at regulating his emotions himself. Originally written in French by a former teacher and pedagogical counselor, the book offers backmatter activities that encourage socio-emotional exploration. The text toggles among first person as Simon describes moments from his day, third person, when Simon introduces a particular puppet, and snippets of dialogue. Although the boxing metaphor has a strong start, it fails to follow a consistent pattern. Consequently, the strong beginning and ending bookend a rather meandering middle section. Stylized illustrations depict fair-skinned characters with round, rosy cheeks and black hair. The limited palette of gray, red, black, and white relies heavily on patterns and shadows created with meticulous pencil strokes. Arbona uses perspective and angle to draw focus, often exaggerating the size of one element to emphasize Simon’s feelings.

A useful tool for instigating socio-emotional discussions with children despite the muddied metaphor. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2181-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.


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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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