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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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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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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