A gentle reminder that everyone is worth valuing—even those without superpowers, exotic skills, wealth, dramatic pasts, or...

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MY TOWN'S (EXTRA) ORDINARY PEOPLE

From Germany, a portrait gallery of regular people—each with “something that makes them unique, special, and interesting.”

The narrator introduces himself as “Theo” and then goes on to introduce 22 further named residents of his seaside town. One is a dog, and most of the blocky human figures in Casal’s serigraphic-style illustrations sport light complexions. Still, some, such as Ayaan, who once filled the back of his pickup with water for beloved nephews Ismail and Rashid to splash in, and dark-skinned Lorca, listening raptly as his paper-white dad, Deshaun, recites poetry on their daily walk to school, stir a bit of diversity into the mix. Certain figures seem typecast—cat lady Emily, for instance, and “laidback dude” Mike, always up for “a most tubular day of surfing”—but the descriptive comments offered for one and all elevate common traits or occupations into something admirable, or at least distinctive. Alexandra the potter “shapes beautiful and useful objects that please our senses.” Sara the bookstore owner “always finds the right book for me.” Flamboyant Zaza is invited to every event because “when he has arrived, so has the party!” To readers who think the people in their own lives have nothing similar to offer, Theo closes with a suggestion that closer looks might be unexpectedly rewarding.

A gentle reminder that everyone is worth valuing—even those without superpowers, exotic skills, wealth, dramatic pasts, or hordes of online friends. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-3-7913-7383-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Prestel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

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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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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