Like nothing you have seen before. (Picture book. 6 & up)

BLUEBIRD

One little boy, one little bird and one big city come together in a wordless fable of friendship, school, loss and comfort.

Readers see the bluebird first, following the boy as he walks to school. Like a guardian angel, the bird watches the boy, even while his classmates mock him. Soon, the bird and boy become friends, returning home from school together, playing hide-and-seek, stopping at a bodega and sailing a boat in a pond. A run-in with a group of thugs leads to the bird’s demise. Blues and grays are the colors of this urban world, allowing Staake’s design to tell the story. Horizontal and vertical panels are interspersed with full-page spreads, encouraging the reader to slow down and experience the story. Though the volume is wordless, there is some environmental text on the signs of the city, which points to how the boy might feel about his life. Each sign is nearly generic: Gotham Café, Circus, The Steadfast Independent Books. Color changes, from blue to near black to white to blue again, allow readers to feel every emotion, including the devastating climax and the begs-to-be-discussed ending, which is punctuated by eight birds of many colors escorting the boy and the bluebird into the clouds.

Like nothing you have seen before. (Picture book. 6 & up)

Pub Date: April 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-87037-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder.

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WONDER

After being home-schooled for years, Auggie Pullman is about to start fifth grade, but he’s worried: How will he fit into middle school life when he looks so different from everyone else?

Auggie has had 27 surgeries to correct facial anomalies he was born with, but he still has a face that has earned him such cruel nicknames as Freak, Freddy Krueger, Gross-out and Lizard face. Though “his features look like they’ve been melted, like the drippings on a candle” and he’s used to people averting their eyes when they see him, he’s an engaging boy who feels pretty ordinary inside. He’s smart, funny, kind and brave, but his father says that having Auggie attend Beecher Prep would be like sending “a lamb to the slaughter.” Palacio divides the novel into eight parts, interspersing Auggie’s first-person narrative with the voices of family members and classmates, wisely expanding the story beyond Auggie’s viewpoint and demonstrating that Auggie’s arrival at school doesn’t test only him, it affects everyone in the community. Auggie may be finding his place in the world, but that world must find a way to make room for him, too.

A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder. (Fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86902-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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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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