Very silly and very smart, this distinctive find is worth checking out.

PIERRE & PAUL AVALANCHE!

Two friends take a break from exploring to have a big snack in this story told in a mixture of English and French.

“Paul and Pierre are great explorers. Ils sont aussi des amis. Friends and explorers.” Instead of presenting a bilingual story with line-by-line translation, this book alternates entire sentences in each language for a unique structure that keeps readers on their toes. When Paul gets hungry, they leave their (imagined) Himalayan trek to see what’s in Pierre’s kitchen, where they begin stacking all sorts of ingredients into a tall sandwich: “Ham, cheese, mayonnaise. Du beurre, de la laitue, un concombre.” Between the illustrations and the English clues, English-speaking readers are bound to pick up a few words and phrases in French, but only the very curious will be up for the multiple readings that will truly bear fruit in that regard. Paul, a pale boy with red hair and freckles, speaks English, while Pierre and his mother, both black, speak French—but all characters understand one another. The childlike illustrations combine the boys’ imaginations with their real world: The sandwich becomes a mountain, which finally topples in the titular avalanche, becoming Paul’s least favorite meal (salad!). While the correspondence between pictured items and their words is not always perfectly obvious, the goal here prioritizes fun over explicit instruction.

Very silly and very smart, this distinctive find is worth checking out. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: March 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77147-327-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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