The story’s slight but allows kids to practice identifying and dealing with their own big feelings.

BIG FEELINGS

Penfold and Kaufman team up again to show children how to navigate overwhelming feelings.

The diverse group of kids from All Are Welcome (2018) this time gathers in a vacant lot with tools in hand to clear the debris and make something new. But therein lies the rub: What should the something new be? While the exact nature of the disagreement is unfortunately not made clear to readers, the big feelings that the children exhibit are very clear (and for readers who need practice reading facial clues, there’s a labeled chart of 15 in the frontmatter). This book’s refrain is “How can I help? / What can we do?” And the answers, spread over several pages and not spelled out in so many words but rather shown in the illustrations, are: talk it through, compromise, and see things from another perspective. As a guide for dealing with feelings and problem-solving, the book is a bit slim and lacks a solid story to hook readers. But, as with its predecessor, its strength is again the diversity on display in its pages. There’s a rainbow of skin tones and hair colors as well as abundant variation in hair texture, several children exhibit visible disabilities, including one child who uses a wheelchair, and there are markers of religious and cultural diversity. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 29.6% of actual size.)

The story’s slight but allows kids to practice identifying and dealing with their own big feelings. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-57974-8

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 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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