Pete sucks the substance from these words of wisdom and guidance; for avowed lovers of Pete the Cat only.

PETE THE CAT'S GROOVY GUIDE TO LIFE

From the Pete the Cat series

A string of aphorisms and inspirational quotations are glossed and illustrated by that groovy blue cat.

The results are predictably simplistic. Pablo Picasso’s “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up” is reduced by Pete to “It’s cool to color outside the lines!” The picture Pete is coloring in the accompanying illustration looks generically childlike, with no hint of cubist genius nor even many violations of the lines. Confucius’ “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated” becomes “Keep it simple! Chill out!”; Pete lolls in a hammock and lifts a glass in one fingerless paw. That attitude carries over in demeanor if not setting for Thomas Edison’s wry and pointed “Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Pete, duly dressed in overalls, perches on a tractor. Though he tells readers, “Amazing things happen when you work hard!” his trademark heavy-lidded, couldn’t-care-less gaze does not bespeak a hard worker; unsurprisingly, there is no hint of anything “amazing” in the surrounding picture, which is just a wash of green. Trite though many of these sayings have become, they still offer far more opportunities for invention and illustration than Dean seems able to find in them.

Pete sucks the substance from these words of wisdom and guidance; for avowed lovers of Pete the Cat only. (Picture book. 4-84)

Pub Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-235135-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2015

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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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