It’s not perfect, but it means well.

READ REVIEW

PENELOPE PERFECT

A TALE OF PERFECTIONISM GONE WILD

Penelope tries hard to be, as the title indicates, perfect.

Penelope Perfect appears proud of her nickname, inspired by her discipline: "Have you ever heard of Old Faithful? / Well, that geyser has nothin' on me!" Continuing in pedestrian verse, Penelope catalogs the course of her day: she cleans her room, exercises, then gets on the bus. At school, Penelope arranges her desk and rechecks her work. She doesn't even take a break at lunch, staying in to rewrite her notes. Cheery cartoons that vary from double-page spreads to full-page illustrations and vignettes show her many instances of perfection, even into the night, when she gets under the covers with a flashlight to double-check her list. On occasion, she appears concerned, but more often she wears a contented smile. But one morning, she wakes up late, throwing off her routine and initially causing great consternation. To Penelope's surprise—and everyone else's—she feels oddly free and even takes part in the games at recess. She’s changed by the experience. Unfortunately, the message is mixed, given Penelope’s previous self-satisfaction and the fact that, even reformed, she refers to play as “goofing off.” The book concludes with four pages of activities and discussion questions to help adults understand and work with children struggling with perfectionism. Penelope’s African-American mom and Caucasian dad are a nice touch.

It’s not perfect, but it means well. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63198-019-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Free Spirit

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

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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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