BLING BLAINE

THROW GLITTER, NOT SHADE

Sparkles are not gender specific.

Say hello to Blaine, a brown-skinned boy who loves things that sparkle. Blaine’s motto is “throw glitter, not shade!” and he embodies it by accessorizing everything from his hat to his backpack in shimmery sparkles. For the most part, Blaine’s classmates, a diverse bunch, embrace the title character’s dazzling accessories and help explain his passion to unfamiliar people by relating it to similar enthusiasms in their own lives. When the haters’ words eventually get to Blaine and bullying starts, the sparkles are abandoned, and Blaine becomes a shadow of his former glitzy self. Blaine’s friends notice the change and fix the problem by wearing their own scintillating accessories and engaging in (implied) in-depth conversations with the haters. The intentions are great, but the story itself creaks, treating Blaine like a plot device and not a real character. His only proactive stance throughout is to offer a sparkly present to one of his detractors as a peace offering, a one-sided gesture, as the kid never apologizes. The bland cartoon artwork does little to enhance the story, and while the diversity of characters is welcome, the use of slits to represent the closed eyes of an Asian student (as compared to every other character’s, which resemble u’s when closed) disappoints. The backmatter introduces readers to the term “ally,” but the subsequent best-practices advice does little to further the conversation.

Costume jewelry at best. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4549-3456-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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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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