Learning to lose (or win) gracefully is a sport all its own in this book that is subtler in its address of gender than its...

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PING VS. PONG

Two edamame beans want to become world-famous table tennis players.

Ping (who wears a high ponytail) and Pong (who has no hair but a cool, sporty sweatband) are both born on the same day. All of the other newborn beans in their respective pods are tiny and docile, but Ping and Pong are immediately goal-driven. They want to become table tennis champions. However, only one can be the best in the world. After an intense match, employing the secret finishing move of their Mighty Burning Paddle Shot, Ping wins! But while Ping is elated, silver-medalist Pong is not. Following a pep talk from Ping, Pong is ready to play again. In a message as heavy-handed as Ping’s winning shot, Gatti pointedly spells out that “The joy is in the game, not the winning.” Flat, minimalistic art magnifies the beans’ droll personalities (even their paddles have tiny smiles). Ping and Pong are delightfully rotund soy characters, and the story has an amusing premise—of course edamame would play table tennis—but the whole work leans heavily into the final lesson. Notably, although Ping’s ponytail might lead readers to infer feminine identity, the text rebels, using a singular “their” to introduce that game-winning move.

Learning to lose (or win) gracefully is a sport all its own in this book that is subtler in its address of gender than its message. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-911171-38-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

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THE DAY YOU BEGIN

School-age children encounter and overcome feelings of difference from their peers in the latest picture book from Woodson.

This nonlinear story centers on Angelina, with big curly hair and brown skin, as she begins the school year with a class share-out of summer travels. Text and illustrations effectively work together to convey her feelings of otherness as she reflects on her own summer spent at home: “What good is this / when others were flying,” she ponders while leaning out her city window forlornly watching birds fly past to seemingly faraway places. López’s incorporation of a ruler for a door, table, and tree into the illustrations creatively extends the metaphor of measuring up to others. Three other children—Rigoberto, a recent immigrant from Venezuela; a presumably Korean girl with her “too strange” lunch of kimchi, meat, and rice; and a lonely white boy in what seems to be a suburb—experience more-direct teasing for their outsider status. A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference.

A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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