The authors’ names will sell it, but it’s the pictures that sing.

WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS

The lyrics of the classic Beatles song accompany an illustrated story in Cole’s (Spot & Dot, 2019) latest creation.

Two children sit near the front of their school bus, on opposite sides of the aisle, looking wistfully out their respective windows, while the crowd of kids in the back of the bus chat and laugh together. As the children exit the school bus, the two hang back from the crowd. At lunch, they notice each other; at recess, the blond, white child plays a guitar while the puffy-haired, darker-hued child watches, smiling. By the next spread, they are singing together in a bedroom and have developed a warm friendship. But soon, the blond child must move away, and each is alone again. They manage their loneliness with letters and phone calls, and, finally, they prepare for what becomes a spectacular visit. Most of the world is drawn in black and white, with touches of color to highlight the main characters and their connection; blue skies dominate the final spreads. Cole’s detailed style effectively creates a busy world in which individuals seek the comfort of friendship. The lyrics only loosely connect to the pictures, and parts of the text may seem obscure to children unfamiliar with the song. Adult readers will likely be happy to share the classic with children, though, and the visual story is strong enough to carry at least a full reading.

The authors’ names will sell it, but it’s the pictures that sing. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2983-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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