A touching, full-circle journey about the lasting impact of kindness.

THE DOLL

In a story inspired by events from the author’s life, a young Vietnamese refugee is welcomed to a new country with the unexpected gift of a doll.

This sweet gesture becomes a formative experience that symbolizes the acceptance of her family in their new home. When she grows up, becoming a doctor, the young woman reflects upon the compassion she received and becomes inspired to help other refugees. Taking action, she greets a new refugee family in an airport and gives a young girl the same doll that welcomed her many years ago. While the story highlights the act of paying it forward, the text betrays the main character by seemingly attributing her success in life to the singular moment of receiving the doll: “All that you have, and all that you have become are because of an act of kindness.” This troubling statement oversimplifies the refugee experience and robs the woman of resilience and agency. However, the overall message of the positive, rippling effect of generosity is not lost. Stamplike shading in dusky reds, browns, and blues evoke warmth and comfort in the illustrations. The refugees, both the original protagonist and those newly arrived, are depicted with dignity and quiet strength. The young woman and her family are Vietnamese, the refugee family she welcomes at the airport is cued as Middle Eastern.

A touching, full-circle journey about the lasting impact of kindness. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77260-165-7

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Second Story Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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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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