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



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 buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.


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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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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