Similarly talkative youngsters struggling with social interactions may want to schedule their own laryngitis days.

READ REVIEW

QUIET PLEASE, OWEN MCPHEE!

A boy who talks too much gets some lessons on the importance of listening from his classmates…and laryngitis.

The book sets the tone from the start, dialogue balloons with fading text filling the opening spread, Owen’s poor dog on her back with paws over her ears. But that’s just the start. Subsequent spreads demonstrate how Owen’s loquaciousness negatively affects his classmates on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday, though, brings a bout of laryngitis that stops Owen in his tracks. Writing everything down takes so much time! Retreating from the playground, where he just can’t keep up, he finds Isabella working on a bridge project he ruined on Monday. After his heartfelt written apology, she invites him to help her, and he becomes the fourth member of a successful team. The ending reflects real life in that Owen still has bouts of talkativeness, though now he does also listen for others’ input…and he schedules regular laryngitis days on his calendar. Barton’s pencil-and-digital illustrations portray a very diverse classroom headed by a black male teacher; red-headed Owen himself presents white, and Isabella has pale skin and black hair. Faces are incredibly expressive; readers will have no doubt how Owen’s classmates feel about his interruptions during storytime or his plot-spoiling at lunch. Discussion questions that will require some deep thinking round out the book.

Similarly talkative youngsters struggling with social interactions may want to schedule their own laryngitis days. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-55713-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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Aims high but falls flat.

WILD SYMPHONY

Through 20 short poems, Maestro Mouse invites readers to meet a series of animals who have lessons to impart and a symphony to perform.

Brown, author of The DaVinci Code (2003) and other wildly popular titles for adults, here offers young listeners a poetry collection accompanied by music: a “symphony” performed, for readers equipped with an audio device and an internet connection, by the Zagreb Festival Orchestra. From the introduction of the conductor and the opening “Woodbird Welcome” to the closing “Cricket Lullaby,” the writer/composer uses poems made of three to eight rhyming couplets, each line with four strong beats, to introduce the animals who will be revealed in the final double gatefold as the players in an all-animal orchestra. Each poem also contains a lesson, reinforced by a short message (often on a banner or signpost). Thus, “When life trips them up a bit, / Cats just make the best of it” concludes the poem “Clumsy Kittens,” which is encapsulated by “Falling down is part of life. The best thing to do is get back on your feet!” The individual songs and poems may appeal to the intended audience, but collectively they don’t have enough variety to be read aloud straight through. Nor does the gathering of the orchestra provide a narrative arc. Batori’s cartoon illustrations are whimsically engaging, however. They include puzzles: hard-to-find letters that are said to form anagrams of instrument names and a bee who turns up somewhere in every scene.

Aims high but falls flat. (Complete composition not available for review.) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12384-3

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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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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