Utterly beautiful.

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BRIGHT STAR

Amid the borderlands, a whitetail fawn thrives and survives in Morales’ latest seed of hope.

“Child, you are awake!” A fawn gazes back at readers, curled up in the desert dirt alongside the cacti and blossoms. “You are alive!” It’s a summoning, a reckoning with the wonders—visible and not visible—of life. The opulent artwork thrums with blooms of orange, brown, and green, featuring vibrant images made of digitally altered drawings, photographs, yarn, wool, among other things. The fawn observes and prances, exploring underneath the warm desert sun. It’s a celebration. But: “Oh, no! What is that?” Faded gray spikes pierce the frame from behind. “Lie low. We want you safe.” The fawn’s left alone, crouched close to the earth as gray smoke suffocates the desert air. Soon, the fawn stands before a concrete wall crowned with barbed wire, bellowing among upturned cacti and other creatures unable to move ahead. “Let the world know what you feel!” In English text that holds Spanish within it, Morales meditates on community, imagination, immigration, and the natural world, often pulling from current events and recent societal traumas. Thanks to some awe-inspiring moments and rather startling images, the fawn’s journey moves at a dreamy pace, inviting further rereads. A powerful author’s note weaves in a visceral sense of urgency. Lucero, an all-Spanish version translated by Eida Del Risco, publishes simultaneously.

Utterly beautiful. (further resources) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4328-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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