A good reminder to keep distraction at bay.

READ REVIEW

THE BIZZIES

Mrs. Bizzie and Mr. Bizzie work as a detective and nature photographer, respectively, starting from early in the morning, weekends included.

Their kids, Bianca and Barnaby, have inherited the parents’ active lives, Bianca taking care of the family pets while Barnaby cooks. The family mystery is that items keep coming up missing, until one day Bianca’s beloved Chucky the Chick runs away. Thus backfires the kids’ plot to seek more attention from their distracted parents, and the Bizzies must come together to find Chucky and to address the elephant-sized problem in the room. The problem is mostly glossed over from there on; Mr. and Mrs. Bizzie somehow find a way to come home earlier from their work and spend weekends with Bianca and Barnaby, but readers don’t learn how they achieve that work-life balance. For many families, simply freeing up additional time isn’t an option. Nevertheless, bringing it up will make some young readers and their grown-up caregivers feel seen, and throughout the text, translated from Spanish, Merlán gives distinct, memorable details to each character. Mrs. Bizzie isn’t just a detective, she’s an investigator who hides a magnifying glass, sunglasses, and comb in her large hair. In illustrations as busy as the Bizzie family, Millán crams in details of the home throughout that reflect the interests of four highly creative individuals (all white).

A good reminder to keep distraction at bay. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-84-16733-62-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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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