This prolific author/illustrator of some of the most beloved characters in picture books comments, through a pig-tailed young girl, about things children could be scared of. Besides the usual—spiders and crawly things, mean looking dogs and thunderstorms—she includes standing up in front of “a whole bunch of people” and “people who look different from you.” The illustration for this last scary thing is of people who are different ages and of different races. Then, there are scary stories in the news and the headlines in a newspaper say “Toy Stores Go Out of Business” and “No One Getting Along.” Her first solution to these scary things is to hide under the covers and never come out. But that would be boring, so each scary thing is rationalized—maybe the dog only looks mean, you’ll miss the rainbow, and you’ll miss your mother telling you everything is going to be all right. “And just think of all the new friends you’ll never meet! So, throw off those covers! There’s a big, beautiful world out there just waiting for you!” The illustrations for these lines depict a campground filled with the people who “are different from you” all having a good time. The last picture is of an American flag at half mast with the sentence: “This book was written on September 12, 2001.” Carlson’s (Smile a Lot!, p. 877, etc.) bouncy, colorful illustrations are simple and strong. The jacket welcomes all readers with the girl shouting out of a window decorated with cheery curtains and a window box of flowers. There are 16 sentences in all and many of the illustrations depict phrases of a sentence. With the country uneasy about terrorism and headlines adding to the tension, this will be a title that can be used for discussion with young children about their fears. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-670-03580-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.


From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

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.


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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