RUFFEN

THE ESCAPE TO LOCH NESS

Having gained natatorial prowess (Ruffen: The Sea Serpent Who Couldn’t Swim, 2008), little Ruffen’s ready to explore the world, and when his Aunt Nessie invites him for a visit, off he goes. It’s a long way to Scotland, so he hitches a ride in the mouth of Henry the whale (“One time I had a man living here for more than three days. I think his name was Jonah”) but is apprehended on the overland leg of the journey and imprisoned in a zoo. He quickly stages a zoobreak and carries all the former captives (who fend off their would-be re-captors with a mammoth fart) to Loch Ness, where Aunt Nessie serenades them all with the bagpipes. Hansen decorates his black-and-white line drawings with jewel-toned accents, equipping all his characters with big, sad eyes and Ruffen with a distinctive mop of hair. Kooky details keep this overlong Norwegian import from sinking entirely into its daft illogic: Nessie sports tartan spots; the zoo is located in “The-Town-With-The-Name-No-One-Can-Say.” Still, the nonending of an ending will disappoint readers who have grown fond of Ruffen and his pals. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-9815761-2-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: MacKenzie Smiles

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2009

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 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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