BLING BLAINE

THROW GLITTER, NOT SHADE

Sparkles are not gender specific.

Say hello to Blaine, a brown-skinned boy who loves things that sparkle. Blaine’s motto is “throw glitter, not shade!” and he embodies it by accessorizing everything from his hat to his backpack in shimmery sparkles. For the most part, Blaine’s classmates, a diverse bunch, embrace the title character’s dazzling accessories and help explain his passion to unfamiliar people by relating it to similar enthusiasms in their own lives. When the haters’ words eventually get to Blaine and bullying starts, the sparkles are abandoned, and Blaine becomes a shadow of his former glitzy self. Blaine’s friends notice the change and fix the problem by wearing their own scintillating accessories and engaging in (implied) in-depth conversations with the haters. The intentions are great, but the story itself creaks, treating Blaine like a plot device and not a real character. His only proactive stance throughout is to offer a sparkly present to one of his detractors as a peace offering, a one-sided gesture, as the kid never apologizes. The bland cartoon artwork does little to enhance the story, and while the diversity of characters is welcome, the use of slits to represent the closed eyes of an Asian student (as compared to every other character’s, which resemble u’s when closed) disappoints. The backmatter introduces readers to the term “ally,” but the subsequent best-practices advice does little to further the conversation.

Costume jewelry at best. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4549-3456-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

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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