With its folkloric elements, positive but not preachy message about sharing, and strong visual presentation, this will make...

THE BLUE BIRD'S PALACE

Natasha, deprived of maternal love by her mother’s death but adored by her farmer father, grows into a selfish young woman in this original tale “inspired by the Russian folk tradition” and first published in France.

She “grumpily” gives an old woman, accompanied by a beautiful blue bird, an apple and is granted one wish: a palace in which “I can invent all kinds of different rooms whenever I like.” The old woman imposes an important caveat. “You will not be able to leave this magical palace.” At first, Natasha is happy but grows tired of her solitude. Wishing for the old woman to reverse the situation, she is transformed into the blue bird for an evening flight. She sees the poverty of so many in the world and returns to her palace, a changed woman. She gives up her many rooms and begins to make bread and jam for the poor. Every night, as the blue bird, she distributes her gifts. Finally the old woman arrives, praises Natasha’s charity, and sends her home to find her father. The moral of the story is obvious, but the translated text is smooth. The sumptuous, stylized, full-bleed, double-page acrylic paintings, with jewellike colors dominated by blues are a delight, with their swirling designs and Slavic details. Hénaff depicts Natasha as an olive-skinned young woman with long, dark hair.

With its folkloric elements, positive but not preachy message about sharing, and strong visual presentation, this will make an excellent read-aloud. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-84686-885-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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