The mostly easy rhyming and vivid colors make this an unforgettable look into Hindu culture.

THE BOY & THE BINDI

An unnamed South Asian boy becomes fascinated with the decoration on his mother's brow, and when she explains what it means to her, he asks for one of his own.

The bindi makes him feel safe, calm, sure. His white friends at the playground wonder what it is, and he has trouble explaining, but he decides he'll never be without it. He feels small and ugly sometimes, but the bindi brings beauty where there was none. Shraya uses rhyme, sometimes a bit awkwardly, to tell her tale. At the end, her protagonist imagines readers asking, "Why is it so special anyway?" More sure of himself now, the boy explains that it's like a third eye watching over him, reminding him not to hide himself away and to embrace his potential self. The bright, beautiful illustrations by Perera do the heavy lifting, symbolically infusing the boy’s cultural difference with the spiritual power it carries for the wearer. The book does not say that bindis are mainly worn by Hindu women in relation to their marital status, allowing readers familiar with the culture to imagine what it means for the boy's mother. Her decision to give one to her son opens up discussions of gender within cultural norms, including the fact that some Hindu men wear bindis for spiritual reasons unrelated to marital status.

The mostly easy rhyming and vivid colors make this an unforgettable look into Hindu culture. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-55152-668-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE SCHOOLS

From the My Purple World series

A color-themed vision of what school should be like.

In what amounts to a rehash of The World Needs More Purple People (2020), Bell and Hart address adult as well as young readers to explain what “curious and kind you” can do to make school, or for that matter the universe, a better place. Again culminating in the vague but familiar “JUST. BE. YOU!” the program remains much the same—including asking questions both “universe-sized” (“Could you make a burrito larger than a garbage truck?”) and “smaller, people-sized” (i.e., personal), working hard to learn and make things, offering praise and encouragement, speaking up and out, laughing together, and listening to others. In the illustrations, light-skinned, blond-haired narrator Penny poses amid a busy, open-mouthed, diverse cast that includes a child wearing a hijab and one who uses a wheelchair. Wiseman opts to show fewer grown-ups here, but the children are the same as in the earlier book, and a scene showing two figures blowing chocolate milk out of their noses essentially recycles a visual joke from the previous outing. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43490-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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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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