There’s a moral here, but it’s not the intended one.

FOX AND CRANE

Interactive diversions are given considerably more attention than the story in this multilingual version of the Aesopian fable.

Giving neither Aesop nor any other source a mention, the briefly retold tale has Fox, “wanting to pleaseher [sic] new friend” (rather than to play a trick), inviting Crane over for a “treat” that Crane cannot eat, as it’s served in a bowl. Crane returns the invitation and serves a meal to Fox in a long-necked vase—thus sending her away peeved and ending the supposed friendship. The text is available in six European languages including the original Russian, plus “English USA” and “English GB.” Details vary considerably in these last two versions (which are read in appropriate accents) and don’t always agree with the illustrations: The American Fox serves oatmeal and gets corn chowder in return, and the British one gets soup after dishing up rice pudding, but in neither rendition is any oatmeal, rice or corn visible in the respective kitchen scenes. Furthermore, the wording isn’t always sure in either rendition—the British Crane unintuitively “peck[s] up all the soup”; the American Fox “mill[s] around the pitcher”—and the American moral, “What goes around comes around,” is both absent in the other and likely to flummox young readers in any country. Delicately drawn illustrations with a traceable maze, a “concentration” game and other touch-responsive features can’t compensate for the story’s fundamental incoherence.

There’s a moral here, but it’s not the intended one. (iPad storybook app. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Mumuin.com

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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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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