Established and new fans alike will find much to love in this whimsical outing.

STARLA JEAN TAKES THE CAKE

From the Starla Jean series , Vol. 2

Starla Jean and her beloved chicken, Opal Egg, are back for a second escapade.

Starla Jean can’t want to make a cake for her baby sister’s first birthday party, but they’ve run out of eggs. Dad offers to get some from the store, but Starla Jean believes in Opal Egg’s ability to lay an egg in time. Proactive Starla Jean goes to work supporting her feathered friend with encouragement, exercise, and relaxation, but the nesting box remains disappointingly empty. Will Opal Egg lay an egg in time? And what if it’s not exactly the kind of egg Starla Jean had in mind? Following the structure of the first, much-lauded book, this story for transitional readers is told in four short chapters. Colorful illustrations on every page have a hipster aesthetic and are rendered in friendly colors and soft textures. Starla Jean’s bright, bold narration is printed in large, easy-to-read type bolstered by generous white space between and around words, sentences, and blocks of text. The intrigue of the mysterious meowing Starla Jean hears is somewhat muddled by the visual presence of Starla Jean’s own black cat; nevertheless, the story’s punchline is amusing and joyous. The book is equally charming as a stand-alone or follow-up to series openerStarla Jean(2021). Starla Jean’s family is depicted with light-brown or dark hair and pale skin. The new kid in the neighborhood is drawn with light-brown skin and dark-brown hair.

Established and new fans alike will find much to love in this whimsical outing. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-30578-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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