The message—about the value of trying new experiences and learning to trust—lies lightly on this lively tale.

THE STORY OF DIVA AND FLEA

A large cat and a small dog strike up an unlikely friendship in this early chapter book.

Set in Paris—a setting charmingly brought to life in DiTerlizzi’s illustrations—the book introduces readers to Flea and Diva. Flea is a large cat who is also a flâneur: “someone (or somecat) who wanders the streets...of the city just to see what there is to see.” Flea's flâneur-ing is how he chances to discover Diva, a very small dog who guards the courtyard of the grand apartment building where she lives. At first Diva is afraid of Flea (as she is most things) and yelps and runs away. This makes Flea laugh, and he visits the courtyard daily. Eventually Diva strikes up the courage to ask Flea if he enjoys hurting her feelings, and Flea feels ashamed. The two become friends. Clever plot twists are woven into the storyline, as is the occasional French word, including the chapter headings. Willems’ adroit storytelling is on display as Flea encourages Diva to try flâneur-ing herself and helps her overcome her fear of feet, while Diva encourages Flea to try indoor living complete with regular Breck-Fest—a novelty in Flea’s scavenging street life—and helps him overcome his fear of brooms.

The message—about the value of trying new experiences and learning to trust—lies lightly on this lively tale. (author’s note, illustrator's note) (Animal fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2284-8

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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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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