ANGUS ALL AGLOW

Find the sparkle in your life.

Angus loves all things shiny, sparkly, and attention-grabbing. This isn’t limited to his apparel; he loves anything that has some extra razzle-dazzle: jewels, nature, and words. To Angus, sparkle is akin to an extra burst for the senses. Angus’ “sapphire-studded scissors sizzle,” and the stars above “crackle like a campfire.” Angus’ favorite bit of bling is his grandmother’s necklace—five strands of multicolored glass beads that seem to pop. When she gives him the necklace, Angus wants to show it off to his friends at school. Undeterred by his family’s mild protests, Angus wears the necklace and is immediately mocked. A kind classmate named Melody eventually helps Angus rediscover the beauty of bling by reconstructing the necklace into two friendship bracelets. Smith’s story accomplishes some great things: It introduces readers to new reach-word vocabulary, and Angus’ love of sparkle isn’t tied directly to sexuality or gender identity, allowing it to reach the heterosexual cis boys who love a little glitz and glimmer. The message stumbles slightly because Angus’ emotional well-being lives and dies by the opinions of others; he never finds the strength to trust his own beliefs. Carter’s cartoonish illustrations, a combination of watercolor, gouache, and pencil, are muted, and the vibrancy described in the story is not relayed via the images. They depict Angus as biracial (his dad has brown skin, and his mom is white) and Melody as black.

Not a must-have. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1493-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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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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