For lovers of Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López’s The Day You Begin (2018), a sweet lesson on how to glow from the inside...

WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE

In this new book from the creative duo behind Wherever You Go (2015), a child warily bids adieu to a beloved former home and summons the courage to embrace the new one.

A family says farewell to neighbors as they pack the last of their belongings into a car and trailer. In a mostly empty room, a pigtailed child holds a photo album. The family drives away from what was their home, and, visibly nostalgic, the child opens the photo album. Miller’s text, replete with musical pulses, evokes the emotional and trying journey: “Because some days are full of things you’d rather not do. // Like plunging into a pool all by yourself, hoping you’ll swim and not sink. / Or standing alone, in front of a crowd, searching for one friendly face.” The drive is a journey through busy city traffic then a somber, rainy forested range that culminates in hilly, coastal views. With mixed traditional media, Wheeler revels in color—dramatic, muted hues and warm glowing pages mirror the protagonist’s feelings. Graceful, sinuous artwork depicting various panoramas adorns mostly double-page spreads, encouraging readers to observe how the illustrations echo the verses. One dazzling spread cleverly uses stars, moon, and twilight to convey the protagonist’s brightness, bravery, and courage. Both child and family are racially ambiguous, with light skin and straight, dark hair.

For lovers of Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López’s The Day You Begin (2018), a sweet lesson on how to glow from the inside out. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-39252-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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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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