It’s sentimental to be sure, but who can’t use a gentle nudge to remember manners? (Picture book. 4-8)

THE THANK YOU LETTER

Young Grace gives and then receives letters of love and gratitude.

After an exuberant birthday party filled with diverse kids in elaborate costumes, Grace sits down to write thank-you letters for her gifts, depicted in Cabrera’s trademark, childlike style. There’s always a bit of dissonance when an adult approximates children’s art, but these are reasonable, not-too-cloying facsimiles. Grace’s messages are just right, especially when acknowledging that while a gift might not have been perfect (she receives a toy dog rather than a living pup; gloves are too large), she’s thankful nonetheless. Upon finishing, she carries on, sending gratitude to teachers, pets, and members of her diverse community. (Grace herself has light skin and straight, dark hair.) Cabrera’s books tend to feel satisfyingly cohesive, and this is no exception. Grace returns home to dozens of love letters sent back to her pinned inside her brand-new play tent, and the whole thing cozily wraps with Grace holding a metafictive sign thanking the readers of this book. At times, the book tries too hard to be positive—where’s the whining about completing what many children regard as a chore?—and Grace’s ever present grin and dotted pink cheeks make her appear excessively dolllike, even cutesy. But the animated art style, with deeply textured acrylic colors in invitingly warm colors and cheery scrapbook paper collage, buoys the effort.

It’s sentimental to be sure, but who can’t use a gentle nudge to remember manners? (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4250-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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