A delightful tribute to books, friendship, and company.

YOURS IN BOOKS

Owl T. Fencepost’s adventure begins when the fusty bird attempts to order How To Soundproof Your Forest Dwelling from the catalog of a nearby, squirrel-owned bookshop.

This very funny sendup of epistolary novels combines understated text with hyperbolic yet charming art. Distinctive voices and a large format make it perfect for reading aloud. When Owl pens the initial letter from “Top of Oak / Near the Clearing / and the Noisy Small Animals,” the letter details why Owl requests that particular book: “so that I might read in peace, alone.” The bird sits at the writing table, amid books and a quill pen in its inkwell, with large pillows deployed to muffle the noise. The formal letter appears opposite, on the recto. The following double-page spread follows this format, with a bespectacled squirrel searching colorful stacks on the verso. Concluding with the titular words, B. Squirrel signs the formal, regretful reply that the book is out of stock. Owl’s next request—for a handbook on moving to a remote island—is instead met with a gift: a book promoting life in the woods. Throughout, the pen-and-ink sketches with watercolor show a multitude of feathered, furry, and shelled neighborhood children, continuously—and sometimes rambunctiously—interacting with a bird who repeatedly declares a desire for solitude. The wise squirrel, whose signature familiarizes into Bessie over the course of the letter exchanges (by literal snail mail), recommends books that lead to positive changes in everyone’s lives.

A delightful tribute to books, friendship, and company. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-951836-20-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Cameron + Company

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 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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