With its promising high concept and laced with plenty of wry humor, this series opener has broad appeal—a good choice for...

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CRASH!

From the Kid from Planet Z series , Vol. 1

It’s tough to be the new kid in school; when the school is on the strange planet your family’s spaceship just crashed on, the challenges only mount.

Fortunately for Zeke and his kind but clueless parents from Planet Z, their ship’s feline commander, Zeus, a graduate of Intergalactic College, has studied Earth. Establishing them in a vacant house, he sets the family straight on some (though not all) Earth basics: there’s only one sun and one moon; if identified as aliens, they could end up in a zoo, Zeus warns, so they must act like earthlings until they can repair the ship. Zeke’s dismayed when told he has to go to school. He won’t know anyone! “I will be the new zeebop,” he protests. Rejecting Zeke’s suggestion that he go instead, Zeus smugly points out that Earth cats don’t go to school. Luckily, Zeke’s classmates prove to be a friendly bunch, sympathetic when he reacts with horror to the cafeteria’s hot dogs and impressed when he drinks his milk through a straw inserted in his ear. But before it can be repaired, the space ship’s hauled off as junk, and the Zanders must find a way to buy it back. While Zeke’s extraterrestrial family can pass (provided they retract their antennae) for dark-skinned humans, Zeus, a tabby, learns the hard way that passing as an Earth cat has a downside. Krulik writes with a soft touch, sparing use of Planet Z vocabulary and the inevitable misapprehensions drawn by the literal-minded Zanders offering plenty of laughs as well as thought-provoking meditations on just how it might feel to be an alien.

With its promising high concept and laced with plenty of wry humor, this series opener has broad appeal—a good choice for reluctant readers. (Science fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-448-49013-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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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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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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