Although a bit pat, the ending satisfies, and the story as a whole addresses many issues pertinent to primary-grade children.

READ REVIEW

THE DEAD FAMILY DIAZ

Angelito is not looking forward to the Day of the Dead. Even though he will be with his family when they arrive at the Land of the Living, his anxieties mount as the elevator door opens onto the raucous party atmosphere of El Día de los Muertos.

Bracegirdle crafts a colorful story about facing fears and accepting differences while seamlessly integrating Spanish words and phrases and information about the holiday’s traditions. Angelito’s older sister, Estrellita, teases him about how frightening and strange the Living are. While everyone in his family is excited about the upcoming festivities, Angelito is afraid of what he will encounter. When he gets separated from his family in the Land of the Living, he finds a friend in Pablo—wearing a skeleton mask—who Angelito believes is just like himself. They have fun together, but at one point both boys realize exactly what the other is. Here Bernatene departs from his lush and vibrantly hued full-bleed spreads to reveal a double-page close-up of both boys, set against ample white space, facing each other with shocked surprise. After running away, Angelito experiences a range of emotions conveyed through spot illustrations. Conveniently, the boys meet up to not only forgive each other, but to also play a trick on Estrellita.

Although a bit pat, the ending satisfies, and the story as a whole addresses many issues pertinent to primary-grade children. (note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3326-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How to Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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