The Ratso brothers’ third outing is good, anthropomorphic fun.

PROJECT FLUFFY

From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 3

It’s Poetry Month—time for the First Annual Peter Rabbit Elementary School Poetry Contest!

First-, second-, and third-place winners each get a gift certificate to Clawmart. Rat brothers Louie and Ralphie Ratso intend to win so they can buy new skateboards. But then woodchuck Chuck Wood, the coolest kid in school, derails the brothers’ plans. Chuck has a crush on geek-girl gardener Fluffy, a spectacles-wearing rabbit pal of Louie’s, and he wants Louie’s help getting her attention. Soon Louie’s abandoning his brother and their poetry project to carry out Project Fluffy. Louie’s advice: give her flowers, write her a poem, give her candy. After all, girls love that stuff: “It’s, like, a fact,” Louie tells Chuck prior to each attempt. After numerous failures, Ralphie tells his brother: “Fluffy is a person and not a project.” Their dad, Big Lou, agrees: “Women aren’t projects or objects.” To get a girl’s attention you need to find out what she likes and take an interest in it. When Louie passes this advice to Chuck, will the love-struck groundhog give it a try? A wry, third-person, present-tense voice narrates this story about crushes, brothers, and togetherness. While the denouement is developmentally spot-on (Fluffy and Chuck decide to be friends), the heteronormative assumptions about romance feel a little stodgy. Large type, lots of comedic black-and-white illustrations, and reading-level-appropriate text suit the book to newly independent readers.

The Ratso brothers’ third outing is good, anthropomorphic fun. (Animal fantasy. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0005-8

Page Count: 97

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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