A beautiful ode to friendship that brings Browning’s rhythms to kids’ level.

HOW DO I LOVE THEE?

Three diverse children adapt Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet 43 from love poem to celebration of friendship.

A pale girl with black hair in pigtails, a light-brown–skinned boy with brown hair and glasses, and a dark-brown–skinned girl with afro puffs atop her head are clearly the best of friends, often holding hands or otherwise touching in the mixed-media–and-digital illustrations. Adams has kept what concepts children can understand of Browning’s language, replacing the rest with references to the seasons and kid-friendly language. Instead of “I love thee to the depth and breadth and height / My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight,” Adams offers, “I love thee deep / and wide and high. // I love thee in soft sunlight / and rain-drizzled night.” The former spread shows the trio in a submarine and on a ship at sea. Instead of Browning’s passionate declamations, readers hear, “I love thee by stars / and firelight. // By spring’s first snowdrops // and fall’s red trees // and winter’s frost-etched breath.” The illustrations mix the real and the fantastical: One of the last spreads (“…and at end of day’s goodnight kiss”) portrays the three children suspended from kites, two of them being welcomed by a parent’s arms, the third still drifting toward home. Neal’s friendly, matte artwork is softly colored in earth tones. The final page tells a little about Browning and gives the original text of Sonnet 43.

A beautiful ode to friendship that brings Browning’s rhythms to kids’ level. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-239444-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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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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