It’s impossible to find a solution that will solve every bullying situation, but empathy is always a fine place to start.

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WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

An internal monologue recounts an episode of bullying.

An unnamed, ungendered narrator is getting bullied at school. This school-aged child’s inescapable nemesis is Bully B. A spare script with pointed headlines describes daily occurrences: “What Bully B. Does Today: Looks me up and down. Shoves my books. Calls me Weirdo. / What Her Friends Do: Laugh. / What Everyone Else Does: Nothing.” However, the young protagonist is unsure of how to ask for help. “What I Say When Mom Asks How My Day at School Was: Fine.” This trenchant storytelling style is immediate and arresting. The staccato words capture both the sting of harsh actions and the matter-of-fact resignation that bullied children often feel. Sookocheff’s gray color palette with muted blues and greens intensifies the isolation. When the narrator does finally admit what is happening, Mom’s response is refreshing. She gives a lot of discussion time to how Bully B. may be feeling and why. She offers adult intervention as an option, but she also suggests a way for the kids to work it out between themselves. Nothing is perfect; the two certainly don’t end up being best friends, but an understanding is reached. The narrator is literally depicted as blue, and Bully B. as chartreuse, while the other children are colorless. Following the rapprochement, the two are revealed to have pale skin, while their classmates are revealed to be diverse.

It’s impossible to find a solution that will solve every bullying situation, but empathy is always a fine place to start. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77147-165-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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