SOLEDAD SIGH-SIGHS/SOLEDAD SUSPIROS

Soledad (whose name means solitude) sighs because she is a latchkey kid. Almost every day after school, she does her homework, has her supper, and falls asleep on the couch before anyone else is home. By keeping his focus firmly on Soledad’s perceptions, González enhances her feelings of isolation from the adult world, a situation reflected in Ibarra’s almost adult-free illustrations. Thus, when the neighbor Mrs. Ahmed checks on Soledad in the afternoon, the woman speaks through the door and doesn’t enter the apartment or the illustration. Likewise, Soledad’s mother appears only twice—waking Soledad up for school and coming home early from work one afternoon—and her father never. But Soledad begins to see her situation from a new angle when her friends, sisters Nedelsy and Jahniza, catch her playing with an imaginary sister. The two girls accompany Soledad home that afternoon and help her understand the advantages of time to oneself and how to think of close friends like themselves as family. In this way González creates a comforting and familiar ambience even as he deals with an uncomfortable reality. Even so, some readers will find the lack of dramatic tension a drawback, distancing Soledad because she seems so internalized. Others may bristle at the semi-baby talk of the title (both Soledad’s nickname and her almost inevitable response to too many situations). These reservations about the text (in both English and Spanish) do not apply to the artwork. Ibarra depicts Soledad’s urban environment in warm earth tones and blues, predominantly executed in chalk, and the round faces of Soledad and her friends and neighbors are stylized and child-like without being cartoonish. These strengths, combined with González’s insights into the child’s mind, create a visually inviting and emotionally encouraging experience, but one that will likely function better as a shared reading between adult and child rather than a child’s read-alone. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 15, 2003

ISBN: 0-89239-180-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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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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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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