The too-simple resolution and final act of revenge blunt the impact of the story’s message.

OLIVE AND THE EMBARRASSING GIFT

Joe’s gift of matching hats, one pink, one purple, both sporting a heart design, heart tassels and pompoms, and reading “Best Friends” across the front, is pretty embarrassing. But is it worth throwing away a friendship?

The teasing starts subtly—a “Ha!” here, a “Hee, hee” there. But then Matt outright tells her, “Olive, you look silly in that hat!” Olive’s attempts to avoid wearing Joe’s gift also start subtly: She’s not sure it’s hat weather; she doesn’t want to lose it. But Joe reassures her it’s an all-occasion hat that “won’t ever fall off.” She even tries hiding, but she’s found. With more footsteps approaching, she just can’t take it and tries lots of ways to hide/rid herself of the hat. But they’re Joe’s footsteps, and she can’t hide the fact that his well-intended gift has been stuffed in the garbage. Feeling terrible, she wears a sandwich board advertising their friendship, trash-stained hat perched atop her head. Amid the others’ teasing, all is seemingly forgiven as the cat and turtle duo walk off the final page hand in hand, the back of Olive’s sandwich board reading, “And Matt is silly!” Freeman depicts his diverse animal cast against white backgrounds, allowing their facial expressions to speak volumes. But while readers will no doubt empathize with both Joe and Olive, the ending is too neat—there’s not even an apology.

The too-simple resolution and final act of revenge blunt the impact of the story’s message. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7406-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE SCHOOLS

From the My Purple World series

A color-themed vision of what school should be like.

In what amounts to a rehash of The World Needs More Purple People (2020), Bell and Hart address adult as well as young readers to explain what “curious and kind you” can do to make school, or for that matter the universe, a better place. Again culminating in the vague but familiar “JUST. BE. YOU!” the program remains much the same—including asking questions both “universe-sized” (“Could you make a burrito larger than a garbage truck?”) and “smaller, people-sized” (i.e., personal), working hard to learn and make things, offering praise and encouragement, speaking up and out, laughing together, and listening to others. In the illustrations, light-skinned, blond-haired narrator Penny poses amid a busy, open-mouthed, diverse cast that includes a child wearing a hijab and one who uses a wheelchair. Wiseman opts to show fewer grown-ups here, but the children are the same as in the earlier book, and a scene showing two figures blowing chocolate milk out of their noses essentially recycles a visual joke from the previous outing. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43490-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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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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