This quirky affirmation of the value of listening will have readers thinking

READ REVIEW

THE EAR

A disembodied ear suffers an existential crisis.

Readers never learn how the ear became separated from her head, though frontmatter images of a white man with a red beard, a vase of sunflowers, and a wooden chair with cane seat provide clues to readers familiar with art history. But van Gogh is not the point. The point is that with no head attached, “I am no one,” the Ear weeps. But then a doleful frog asks if he can sing for her, which cheers them both up. She goes on to listen to an elephant’s story and a hare’s confession (she ate a snowman’s nose). Pretty soon, the Ear has earned a reputation as “the best listener in the land.” Then a spider comes “with a voice as sweet as honey” to whisper unkindnesses as it spins its web around the Ear. But with a “Chomp!” the frog dispatches the spider, and they all live happily ever after. Raud’s little tale is about as weird as they come, and the Ear’s staring eyes are more than a little unsettling. But the Estonian author/illustrator’s surreal, two-dimensional images, populated with smiling, stylized animals, have a zany matter-of-factness that eases readers into the story. Characters perch on the horizon line, strong verticals and horizontals combining with rounded corners to convey stability, while swirling interior lines hint at emotional complexity.

This quirky affirmation of the value of listening will have readers thinking . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-500-65163-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

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THE DAY YOU BEGIN

School-age children encounter and overcome feelings of difference from their peers in the latest picture book from Woodson.

This nonlinear story centers on Angelina, with big curly hair and brown skin, as she begins the school year with a class share-out of summer travels. Text and illustrations effectively work together to convey her feelings of otherness as she reflects on her own summer spent at home: “What good is this / when others were flying,” she ponders while leaning out her city window forlornly watching birds fly past to seemingly faraway places. López’s incorporation of a ruler for a door, table, and tree into the illustrations creatively extends the metaphor of measuring up to others. Three other children—Rigoberto, a recent immigrant from Venezuela; a presumably Korean girl with her “too strange” lunch of kimchi, meat, and rice; and a lonely white boy in what seems to be a suburb—experience more-direct teasing for their outsider status. A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference.

A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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