Alfie’s obsession with kittens and her innocent plotting will endear her to young readers.


From the Absolutely Alfie series , Vol. 1

Eight-year-old African-American Alfleta “Alfie” Jakes is completely bored.

With three weeks left of her summer vacation, she wants something to do. Older brother EllRay hangs out with his friends, and her parents are busy working. Nobody seems to have time for Alfie. Her mom decides she can hang out with white Hanni Sobel. This is a great idea except that Hanni is “a know-it-all who tried to be the boss of the other girls.” Surprisingly, Hanni makes a good playmate, especially since she has three cute kittens. Soon Alfie is obsessed with a little gray kitten she names Princess. Alfie really needs this kitten. She devises Operation Kittycat, a foolproof plan to get a kitten home. But her parents have a no-pet policy. Will Alfie be able to pull it off by the time summer ends? Warner’s charming protagonist, whom some may recognize from the chapter-book series about big brother EllRay, will captivate readers with her funny takes on her family and Hanni. Friendly and appealing illustrations by Malone pepper the chapters, adding a sweet dimension to the story. Sequel Absolutely Alfie and the First Week Friends publishes simultaneously.

Alfie’s obsession with kittens and her innocent plotting will endear her to young readers. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-99986-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.


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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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.


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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