A richly illustrated, accessible critique of consumer culture and scarcity mentality.

READ REVIEW

A BOTTLE OF HAPPINESS

A modern yet timeless fable in which a child’s observation sparks a paradigm shift for a society that values individual production and ownership.

Two groups of humans live on either side of a mountain, leading disparate lives due to the range of resources available to them: One side catches fish, mines jewels, grows crops, and sells things among themselves, while the other side must eke out a living with crops grown in weak soil. What this second group lacks in material wealth, however, they more than make up for in close-knit community, freely sharing experiences and stories. The book’s child protagonist, Pim—who is never gendered by the text—hails from the storytelling group. One day Pim ventures to the marketplace over the mountain in search of a new story but finds much more. Goodhart’s prose, which captures both the wonder and pragmatism of many folktales, is supported by Abdollahi’s vibrant, detailed patchworklike watercolors. The angular, almost cubist artistic style, featuring paper-white figures with large eyes and elongated limbs, lends the text a surreal, vaguely unsettling affect that echoes its anti-capitalist message. The text placement is visually dynamic in several spreads, though certain other design elements distract rather than support; for example, the cover’s muted gray background clashes with its rounded, colorful display type.

A richly illustrated, accessible critique of consumer culture and scarcity mentality. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-910328-20-0

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Tiny Owl

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Lit with sweetness.

SHARE SOME KINDNESS, BRING SOME LIGHT

Coco, who loves her gentle friend Bear, is shocked to learn that the other forest animals do not know about his kindness.

Inspired by one of her grandmother’s favorite maxims, Coco, a girl with light brown skin and curly brown hair, works with Bear to “share some kindness [and] bring some light” to the other animals in the forest. Interpreting it literally, the two make cookies (kindness) and lanterns (light) to share with the other animals. They trek through the snow-covered forest to deliver their gifts, but no one trusts Bear enough to accept them. As night begins to fall, Bear and Coco head home with the lanterns and cookies. On the way through the quiet forest, they hear a small voice pleading for help; it’s Baby Deer, stuck in the snow. They help free him, and Bear gives the young one a ride home on his back. When the other animals see both that Baby Deer is safe and that Bear is responsible for this, they begin to recognize all the wonderful things about Bear that they had not noticed before. The episode is weak on backstory—how did Coco and Bear become friends? Why don’t the animals know Bear better by now?—but Stott’s delicately inked and colored illustrations offer beguiling views of lightly anthropomorphized woodland critters that make it easy to move past these stumbling blocks. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 67% of actual size.)

Lit with sweetness. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6238-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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