Nearly the best one yet, and that’s saying something.

WHERE DANI GOES, HAPPY FOLLOWS

From the My Happy Life series , Vol. 6

In the sixth installment of this Swedish chapter book series, Dani takes a train trip by herself. It doesn’t go as planned.

Dani is spending winter break at her grandparents’ house because her father, Gianni, has become sad again and has decided to go to Rome (where he is from) without her to “think about his life.” A gloomy Dani is trying to decide what to do on break when she comes up with a brilliant idea—her best friend Ella’s birthday is near, and she, Dani, will surprise visit her! But Ella lives in Northbrook, and Dani does not. Not a problem for positive-thinking Dani. She simply instructs her grandmother to drive her. But her grandmother says she is having her bridge friends’ dinner, and besides, the car is being serviced. Seeing Dani’s disappointment, she asks if Dani is brave enough to take the train on her own. Dani is hesitant but decides that for Ella, she will do it—and she does, but things go awry. Writing with exceptional insight and humor, author Lagercrantz develops Dani’s emotional maturity in this story, giving her a growing awareness of both life’s complexity and adult fallibility, all the while maintaining Dani’s bone-deep optimism. Illustrator Eriksson’s lively black-and-white drawings add lovely empathy and show everyone’s skin as the white of the paper.

Nearly the best one yet, and that’s saying something. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77657-225-0

Page Count: 94

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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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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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