A message delivered many times…but still true blue–ish.

THE ONE AND ONLY SPARKELLA

From the Sparkella series , Vol. 1

The first day of school might not go too well, nor the second—but the third time’s the sparkly charm in actor Tatum’s picture-book debut.

Working a particularly effervescent variation on the well-trod “just be yourself” lesson, Barnes depicts young Ella (“You can call me Sparkella”) and their single dad positively exploding with stars and twinkles bursting from flamboyant garb and dancing along to school. But if Sparkella turns out to be a bit much for their new class, Day 2’s plainly dressed Ella just leaves the protagonist bored and lonely. There’s nothing for it but to share a little dance party that night with Dad (who had a hard day himself) and recite the pledge that the duo use to combat nervousness: “Close my eyes and know that everything I could need is already there inside of me.” The next day, Sparkella’s not the only child fizzing away in class and by lunchtime is trading half of an almond butter, jam, blueberry, and whipped cream sandwich for some of new friend Tam’s bánh mì. Sometimes, as the scintillant young narrator puts it, “all you can do is be more you-ish.” Sparkella and Dad are light-skinned, Tam is brown-skinned, and the class is racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A message delivered many times…but still true blue–ish. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-75075-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2022

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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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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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