A gentle preview of mortality for young ones, softening but not disguising the prospect and arrival of loss.

AUNT FANNY'S STAR

CHILDREN AND THE LOSS OF A LOVED ONE

An elder relative leaves memories and mementos with three young bunnies.

Signaling its theme with its subtitle, the tale begins with the arrival of Great Aunt Fanny to the Bunny household, where she takes over a bedroom but proves to be an easy new addition, being a playful soul with “more silliness in her head than the three little bunnies put together.” (Pleasantly, all of the grown-ups seem to accept the new family arrangement as a matter of course.) Every night she takes Lisa, Linda, and Tony out to the porch to wave at the stars and watch them twinkle back. She also teaches them how to make daisy crowns and willow whistles, shares small treasures from her chest of drawers, and warns that sooner or later she’ll be going “to that place where we were before we were born.” And so it is, when one day she doesn’t wake up, that everyone gathers amid tears to bury her reverently in the woods. Afterward the children, thinking of where she has gone, wave at the stars and watch them twinkle back. Oral echoes the episode’s gentle, low-key tone with scenes of fuzzy anthropomorphic rabbits in cozy country dress and surroundings.

A gentle preview of mortality for young ones, softening but not disguising the prospect and arrival of loss. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-988-8341-30-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: minedition

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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