A sweet read to share with loved ones.

WHAT WILL YOU BE?

Guided by Abuela, a young child discovers their potential.

“No, what will you really be?” a group of friends ask the young narrator in response to their imagining a future as an astronaut, a unicorn, or a clown. Without an answer, the child seeks the help of Abuela, who has been everything “under the Sun and the Moon.” Encouraged by Abuela to listen to their heart, the child quiets down and pays attention until the answers come. The pair then embarks on an exercise of the imagination as the child envisions becoming a builder of homes, a writer and painter of dreams, an explorer of their roots, a farmer of wonder and change, a healer of broken hearts, a student, and a teacher. Abuela accompanies her grandchild on this journey, standing or sitting nearby, at times even lifting up the child. Alizadeh’s scratchy illustrations show the loving relationship between grandmother and grandchild, both depicted as people of color. The beginning endpapers illustrate the studio walls as a blank canvas with limitless opportunities, the back endpapers show those opportunities fulfilled with splashes of color depicting all the things the young narrator can be. Méndez and Alizadeh create a balance between the abstract and concrete by letting the child imagine the future but with Abuela’s guidance and support. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52.1% of actual size.)

A sweet read to share with loved ones. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-283995-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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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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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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