A beautifully validating book that builds on the necessary work of its predecessor.

EYES THAT SPEAK TO THE STARS

A young Chinese American boy discovers himself, his roots, and his potential.

In this poetic celebration of body diversity, family, and Chinese culture, the author picks up on themes introduced in her New York Times bestselling picture book, Eyes That Kiss in the Corners (2021). While the previous title centered female family members, this offering focuses on three generations of male kindred. After a classmate draws an offensive and hurtful picture depicting the boy with slits for eyes, he finds comfort in his father’s affirming words: “Your eyes rise to the skies and speak to the stars. / The comets and constellations / show you their secrets, and your eyes can / foresee the future. / Just like mine.” The boy narrates that his father’s eyes “shine like runway lights” and are just like the eyes of his grandfather, who “holds the wisdom of generations.” He describes how his little brother, Di Di, has eyes just like the male family members who came before him. By finding a mirror in the loved ones whom he so adores and admires, the narrator begins to see that his eyes are powerful and visionary: “My eyes shine like sunlight rays / that break through dark and doubt.” The idea of “looking up” is a repeated textual and visual motif—sophisticated digital illustrations full of flowing lines imply upward movement, and scenes from the grandfather’s memories and his retellings of Chinese tales, as well as scenes of the family spending time together, feature aerial objects like comets and Chinese kites and sky lanterns. The circular narration emphasizes the reassuring similarities between blood relatives and the continuity of family tradition.

A beautifully validating book that builds on the necessary work of its predecessor. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-305775-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 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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