Thin characterization and an unsatisfying ending make this one to miss.

READ REVIEW

TODAY YOU CAN'T PLAY

From the Égalité series

A bully causes a group of kids to find a solution to their playtime dilemma.

Ever since Emma’s arrival, Ana’s been isolated from her longtime friends, rumored about cruelly, and made to give up her lunches. Fearing the embarrassment of tattling, Ana suffers in silence—until her friends get the same kind of treatment and decide, one by one, to form their own play group. Despite threats, the group grows bigger each day until Emma is left alone and must sheepishly ask to join them all. This timely book about bullying and power dynamics unfortunately falls short on nuance and ends abruptly. The lesson from Spanish author and kindergarten teacher Serrano seems to be that kids should wait a bully out instead of getting an adult involved. And Emma herself is presented only as a frowning ball of anger and spite; it’s unclear what her motivations are and how, as a new kid in school, she was able to take control so easily. What both the English and simultaneously publishing Spanish versions of the book do get right, though, is the feeling of being trapped in an uncontrollable school power dynamic, illustrated with plenty of sweat and frowns. There’s the gulps, the tummy aches, the anxiety of feeling picked on and singled out. Emma presents white, Ana has brown skin, and the other kids are diverse.

Thin characterization and an unsatisfying ending make this one to miss. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-84-17123-46-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: nubeOCHO

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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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The title says it all: Black boys are “every good thing.”

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I AM EVERY GOOD THING

A much-needed book for Black children when society demonstrates otherwise.

The Kirkus Prize–, Coretta Scott King Honor–, Newbery Honor–, and Caldecott Honor–winning team behind Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut (2017) return for another celebration of Black excellence. In a text brimming with imagination and Black-boy joy, Barnes lays the foundation for young Black readers to go forth into the world filled with confidence and self-assurance: “I am brave. I am hope. / I am my ancestors’ wildest dream. / I am worthy of success, / of respect, of safety, of kindness, of happiness.” Simultaneously, he opens a window for non-Black readers to see Black boys’ humanity. They have dreams, feel pain, are polite and respectful—the list of qualities goes on. Barnes also decides to address what is waiting for them as they experience the world. “I am not what they might call me.” With this forceful statement, he provides a tool for building Black resilience, reassuring young Black readers that they are not those names. James supplies his customarily painterly art, his brushy oils painting Black boys of every shade of brown playing, celebrating, achieving, aspiring, and loving. Through every stroke readers will see that Black boys are “worthy / to be loved.” (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 35% of actual size.)

The title says it all: Black boys are “every good thing.” (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-51877-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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