An absolutely beautiful story that penetrates the heart and seeds hope when there is little of it.

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THE DAY WAR CAME

This gracefully written poem conveys the extensive amount of suffering that war brings.

A girl with brown skin and black hair who lives in a city enjoys her day, spending the morning with her family, then learning about volcanoes and drawing a bird at school. Then war suddenly erupts: “I can’t say the words that tell you / about the blackened hole / that had been my home. / All I can say is this: / War took everything. / War took everyone.” The child runs, walks in the cold, rides on packed trucks and in a boat that nearly sinks, but the war follows her: “It was underneath my skin…. / It was in the way that people didn’t smile, and turned away.” She finds a school where children are learning about volcanoes and drawing birds, but when she goes inside, the teacher says there is no chair for her. In an unexpected turn of events, the children of the school redraw the smile on the girl’s face and push back the war, one step at a time. Cobb’s muted, deceptively childlike illustrations match the poem’s understatement. An early spread of the gray, smoky chaos that destroys the girl’s world is echoed in a late spread as she huddles alone in an unwelcoming place. Both an afterword by the author and the illustrations suggest that the protagonist may be from Syria or Iraq and sought refuge in the U.K., but the story is, alas, more broadly universal.

An absolutely beautiful story that penetrates the heart and seeds hope when there is little of it. (Picture book. 6-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0173-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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