This enjoyable trio deserves its rightful place away from the confines of any toy chest

TOYS COME HOME

BEING THE EARLY EXPERIENCES OF AN INTELLIGENT STINGRAY, A BRAVE BUFFALO, AND A BRAND-NEW SOMEONE CALLED PLASTIC

From the Toys Go Out series

Who could imagine the introduction of a self-conscious stingray could lead to such great things?

How toys StingRay, Lumpy and Plastic learn to share their Girl's living quarters (and her affection) forms the plot of this humorous, bittersweet precursor to Toys Go Out (2006) and Toy Dance Party (2008). Owning her role as the “Actual Day of Birth Present,” StingRay fights for her place among a group of peculiar playthings, which are all bossed about by pompous walrus Bobby Dot. StingRay saves sleepy Sheep (sans its ear) from thistles, and Lumpy outwits an aggressive feline houseguest. Bobby Dot's unintentional sacrifice comforts his beloved child but brings about a fate of Velveteen Rabbit proportions—a dryer, sneakers and dry-clean–only stuffed animal clearly do not mix. Life's brutal realities are spotlighted with a gleaming authenticity (“Because now StingRay knows something she really and truly did not know before. A life can be over”). Character-driven episodes unfold in six fully realized chapters; Zelinsky's softly shaded pencil drawings showcase pivotal moments, revealing each individual idiosyncrasy (narcoleptic Sheep included) during this eventful year. A cozy self-contained ending depicts the security found in hearth and home—or, in this case, the cool comfort only the linen-closet floor (and a snuggle with your closest friends) can provide.

This enjoyable trio deserves its rightful place away from the confines of any toy chest . (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-86200-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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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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