A book that creatively glances backward and forward, offering hope for an America that wants to be post-racial but isn’t...

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A GIFT FROM GREENSBORO

A book that gives voice to a little-known piece of history.

In this illustrated free-verse poem, the African-American speaker (and author) remembers the candy and parakeets sold at Woolworth’s, but he also recalls enjoying lunch there with his best friend, a white boy named Tod. Unbeknownst to the boys, others had fought civil rights battles at that same lunch counter only a few years prior. Lansana’s verses traverse two geographical areas—Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Greensboro, North Carolina—and three time periods: 1958, when Clara Luper, an Oklahoma City civil rights activist, staged a sit-in with several young NAACP member in Katz Drug Store; the mid-1970s, when desegregation closed Lansana’s school and sent him to Tod’s, where they became friends; and 1993, when the Greensboro Woolworth’s closed, later to become the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. Lansana’s erasure of geographical and temporal boundaries may confuse readers, but it emphasizes that civil rights battles happened not just in the South, but across the nation. The backmatter covers desegregation milestones that will give readers a deeper understanding of the story. Hill’s artwork alternates among black-and-white, sepia-and-white, partially covered, and full-color illustrations to draw readers’ attention to what was and what is.

A book that creatively glances backward and forward, offering hope for an America that wants to be post-racial but isn’t yet. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9972219-1-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Penny Candy

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2016

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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 lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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