A little pterodactyl is teased by his wingless peers.
The titular young pterodactyl, who “just want[s]to be normal,” is mocked by bullies who “[think] his wings [are] strange and weird,” snubbed when he tries to throw a party and then, following a bit of parental comfort, assaulted with snowballs. After all this, one of the onlookers, Bailey the Brachiosaurus, apologizes for his inaction, and the two go off to dance around “in the prehistoric sun.” Notwithstanding a reference to “vast snowy plains,” the brightly colored cartoon figures seem to live in sunny, woodland glades—and a good thing too, as reptiles are not known to thrive in snow. They rock stiffly back and forth or move a little, disappear or otherwise respond reluctantly to persistent taps and swipes. Children have the option of listening to a wooden reading of the awkwardly written narrative, choosing “Read Myself” mode (which also cuts off the background music) or dispensing with visible text entirely to make party balloons pop, scribble on a coloring page, or play with the rudimentary, slow-to-reload pinball game and two other simple appended activities.
Low-rent graphics and interactive effects perfectly complement a stultifyingly bland prehistoric tale
. (iPad storybook app. 6-8)
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)
From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.
Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.