An inclusive compilation permeated with strong values.

READ REVIEW

HIGH-FIVE TO THE HERO

15 CLASSIC TALES RETOLD FOR BOYS WHO DARE TO BE DIFFERENT

This collection reimagines 15 fairy tales with modern touches and community-minded heroes.

At the request of King Midas, Pied Piper, Geppetto, and Anansi, Murrow (Power to the Princess, 2018, etc.) returns with a new set of stories that rethink the roles of heroes, kings, and princes. A young Arthur discovers his talent for solving disputes by listening instead of doing battle. Pinocchio learns a real boy’s heart “gives and receives and loves bravely.” Despite his fears, Quasimodo stands up for what he believes in to save the community center from demolition. Each tale includes bright cartoon illustrations of racially and culturally diverse characters who wear modern attire apart from the occasional wizard robe or suit of armor. Along with promoting representations of sensitive, nurturing men who are unafraid to express themselves, Murrow expands beyond cis-heteronormativity with casual queer representation. Jack, from “Jack and the Beanstalk,” has two moms. The title character of “The Snow Man” falls in love with another Snow man (even if they both melt at the end). Anansi’s child Golden Silk uses they/them pronouns, as does the postal carrier’s partner in “The Pied Piper” (although the binary language of “hardworking men and women” slips in directly after their appearance). Forcefully optimistic—sometimes in defiance of a tale’s original ending—the characters earn their happily-ever-after resolutions by learning lessons about dedication, justice, and love.

An inclusive compilation permeated with strong values. (Fantasy. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-782-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

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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