MY MOM IS A FOREIGNER, BUT NOT TO ME

A chorus of children with foreign-born mothers join voices to express their side of the immigrant experience.

Having a mom who’s a foreigner can be tough. “She makes me do stuff foreign ways,” like taking soup to school and kissing people hello. Child and mom don’t always look alike, and her accent—not to mention the silly foreign nicknames—attracts unwanted attention. But “compared to OTHER Moms, / I know that she’s the best.” Moore’s well-meaning book, inspired by her own childhood, is something of a disaster. The rhyming quatrains limp along, forcing scansion to suit the rhyme scheme: “My Mom is a foreigner, / She’s from another place. / She came when she was ten years old, / With only one suitcase.” Amateurish rhyme is just one of this book’s problems, though. Adult and child readers alike would be forgiven for thinking that those four lines are spoken by the same child and refer to the same mother, but they don’t. Seemingly arbitrary changes in typography are clues that the child speaker is changing; narration is shared in five different typefaces among eight or so children with mothers from all over the globe. So’s illustrations, uncharacteristically, do not rise to the admittedly considerable design challenge, failing to provide sufficient clues to let readers know which statements belong to which child until the last few pages, when it is far too late.

A confusing mess . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4521-0792-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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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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