A real treasure of a book for any child who has struggled to learn a skill.

ABDUL'S STORY

A young Black boy struggles with writing—until a special guest visits his class.

Abdul loves to tell stories about the people in his neighborhood, and his friends at school love hearing them. But whenever he tries to write down his stories in a notebook, spelling rules confuse him, and his “scribbly, scratchy, scrawly letters” never stay on the lines. Abdul decides that his stories are not for books. One day, a visitor comes to Abdul’s class; Mr. Muhammad—a Black man with a flattop haircut like Abdul’s and whose sneakers, like Abdul’s, have “not a single crease or scuff”—is a writer who urges the students to “write new stories with new superheroes.” Abdul feels motivated to give writing another shot, but again he ends up with endless erasure marks and smudges. Mr. Muhammad shows Abdul his own messy notebook, and Abdul, who is left-handed, decides to try writing without erasing. He makes a mess but searches through the clutter for sentences he loves. He rewrites and rewrites and works on his mistakes until he forms a story he likes, proudly claiming the title of writer. Bright, full-color, textured digital illustrations depict a racially diverse, joyful community. This story offers an honest portrayal of learning differences and demonstrates the importance of role models who reflect kids’ own backgrounds. It is a lovely addition to the shelf of meaningful children’s books portraying Black Muslim Americans in everyday situations. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A real treasure of a book for any child who has struggled to learn a skill. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6298-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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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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