An environmental message that goes down easily amid the cartoony cast.



In this tale told entirely in dialogue, most along the lines of “See you later, Alligator,” Miles and Spike pay a visit to the woods, to the consternation of the animals that live there.

The two buddies, anthropomorphic dogs wearing boots and toting a blue backpack, seem to have come just to pillage the forest of its resources: wood, flowers, corn (an odd find in the woods), worms, and blueberries. With each new item, the backpack bulges a little more, and Miles and Spike leave in their wake a host of angry critters, their tossed-off, la-dee-da comments only adding fuel to the fire: “Ta-ta for now, COW!” “Peace out, RAINBOW TROUT!” The two dogs and the animal(s) they are speaking to are depicted in full color, while brilliantly colored monochromatic backgrounds allow Long to show the previously ticked-off animals and the devastation left behind (readers will expect the Lorax to pop out at any moment). Finally, Miles and Spike are unable to hoist the backpack and, thirsty from the tussle, go to fill up their canteens. They demand “Clear the water, OTTER!”—and the angry animals band together to deliver the titular message. The empty landscape speaks volumes, and the two admit “We acted dumb, chum.” They try again, unpacking the backpack and inviting the animals to accompany them to a new patch of forest (the trout is carried in a fishbowl), where they share their bounty, smiles and friendship replacing angry glares.

An environmental message that goes down easily amid the cartoony cast. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6471-7

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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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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A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia.


A young ballerina takes on her first starring role.

Young Misty has just begun taking ballet when her teacher announces auditions for the classic ballet Coppélia. Misty listens spellbound as Miss Bradley tells the story of the toymaker who creates a doll so lifelike it threatens to steal a boy’s heart away from his betrothed, Swanilda. Paired with a kind classmate, Misty works hard to perfect the steps and wins the part she’s wanted all along: Swanilda. As the book closes, Misty and her fellow dancers take their triumphant opening-night bows. Written in third person, the narrative follows a linear structure, but the storyline lacks conflict and therefore urgency. It functions more as an introduction to Coppélia than anything else, despite the oddly chosen title. Even those unfamiliar with Copeland’s legendary status as the first black principal ballerina for the American Ballet Theatre will predict the trite ending. The illustrations are an attractive combination of warm brown, yellow, and rosy mahogany. However, this combination also obscures variations in skin tone, especially among Misty’s classmates. Misty and her mother are depicted with brown hair and brown skin; Miss Bradley has red hair and pale skin. Additionally, there’s a disappointing lack of body-type diversity; the dancers are depicted as uniformly skinny with extremely long limbs. The precise linework captures movement, yet the humanity of dance is missing. Many ballet steps are illustrated clearly, but some might confuse readers unfamiliar with ballet terminology. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 48% of actual size.)

A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-54764-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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