Not exactly peculiar but far from compelling.


From the Nocturnals series

Three animal friends try to figure out why a sugar glider’s favorite food is missing and encounter a new neighbor in their community.

The three anthropomorphic, nocturnal animals, Tobin (a pangolin), Bismark (a sugar glider), and Dawn (a fox), are puzzled when Bismark finds only one pomelo in the tree. They hear strange sounds and smell unfamiliar scents, both of which cause them to conclude they “have a prowler in [their] presence.” This turns out to be a possum, who plays dead when she is frightened by the others. Bismark, already annoyed that she’s taken at least one pomelo, thinks her behavior is “peculiar,” and he tells her so when she comes to. Alliteration with the letter p dominates several of the ensuing passages as Penny the possum defends herself against Bismark’s insults (Penny’s “not pleasant” but “peculiar”; “Penny prowls and she pillages”). The other animals take her side, and eventually Bismark apologizes. The writing is both stilted and likely too sophisticated for many new readers; the art, which is largely redundant of text, provides cues to help readers with decoding, but its uninspired setting and bland, animation-inspired characterization do little to enhance the feeble storytelling. (Editor's note, 9/13/18: In our original review of this book, printed in our 9/1/18 issue, we expressed a concern about the grammatical use of "lay" instead of "lie." The publisher has corrected that error, so we have revised the review to reflect the book that will be available to consumers.)

Not exactly peculiar but far from compelling. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-944020-19-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Fabled Films

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


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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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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