An undistinguished addition to the infuriatingly overstuffed shelves of anger-management treatises.

THE POUT-POUT FISH AND THE MAD, MAD DAY

From the Pout-Pout Fish series

Pout-Pout goes off the deep end.

Plainly afflicted with anger issues, Mr. Fish leverages a broken knickknack, difficulty finding glue, and the mild reactions of his neighbors to his plight into a towering, out-of-control tantrum. Mrs. Squid offers a tried-and-true (though, at least for a fish, physically impossible) counterstrategy: “To get started, simply breathe. / Then slowly count from one to ten / To counteract the seethe.” Miss Shimmer, another fish, suggests using his words to talk out his feelings…which he does (though only in the pictures, as Diesen declines to use her words to describe what he actually says). Finally, “with words and self-compassion / I bring anger to a stop,” and once he’s gotten his “grrrrr” out, the glue even turns up so that in no time fish and fracture are both “good as new.” Unlike the “seethe” in Molly Bang’s When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry… (1999) or Polly Dunbar’s Red Red Red (2020), the rage here comes across as manufactured rather than genuine—and the coping techniques are more described in general terms than actually demonstrated. Hanna’s cartoon cast of fancifully colored deep-sea denizens is as googly-eyed as ever. He adds some amusing details, as with the labels on Mr. Fish’s storage bins (“Might Need Someday” and “Not Sure will look later”), but the souvenir from “Machoo Poochy” is an unfortunate choice. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 75% of actual size.)

An undistinguished addition to the infuriatingly overstuffed shelves of anger-management treatises. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-30935-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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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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