No one could have a heart of stone reading this one.

ANTHONY AND THE GARGOYLE

A boy and his gargoyle companion show the importance of family in this sweet, wordless picture book.

Opening with an image of a picture-covered wall depicting a White family’s history—elderly relatives, wedding pictures, and cuddly baby pictures of our protagonist holding a large gray egg in his lap—the book then depicts the titular Anthony going to bed with the egg on his bedside table, then waking up to it having hatched. Hiding in the closet is an adorable, apparently shy baby gargoyle with large, floppy ears and a tiny horn. The pair play with toys, mark heights on the wall, read books about Notre Dame de Paris and Victor Hugo, until a letter arrives bearing news that Anthony’s grandmother is in the hospital. The family takes the train to Paris, with the little gargoyle stowed away in Anthony’s backpack, peeking out to take in the sights. After a heartwarming visit with Grand-mère, who is introduced to the unnamed gargoyle, the family goes to Notre Dame, where the gargoyle reunites with its worried parent, a full-sized, single-horned figure peering anxiously down onto the city until its offspring’s presence awakes it from its stony state. The book closes with another close-up of the picture wall, this time with a photo of Anthony and the gargoyle family. Kastelic’s muted watercolor panels, reminiscent of the work of Carson Ellis, paint a full picture of these two loving families and the venerated French capital. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

No one could have a heart of stone reading this one. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77306-344-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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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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