A sensitive character study with feelings that run deep.

NOOK

A shy child surrenders her special sitting place when an unhappy stranger comes along.

Resembling the sweet, flop-eared white bunny of Garland’s Share (2014) more in looks than character, Nook much prefers to sit silently apart pressed safely against a wall, beneath a table, or, best of all, nestled in a cozy hollow in an old elm tree outdoors; she’ll join the play of her more outgoing animal friends in spirit rather than body. Mostly they give her the space she needs, inviting her to join them just often enough to let her know she’s included. Disaster looms one day, though, when she finds a big, angry badger sitting in her special place: “Mine!” it snaps. “Go away!” With no wall or corner to retreat to, Nook feels her panic rising—and suddenly her friends are all gathered behind her. “That’s Nook’s place.” “Yes, Nook needs to sit there.” When the interloper won’t be moved, Nook’s friends lead her away to be with them in the middle of the playground…and that turns out to be OK, because now that she understands that they will always have her back she no longer needs the refuge. Garland uses vigorous strokes of brush and colored pencil to give her figures a plushy surface, and though she depicts them as animals, so human are their understated expressions and gestures (and clothes) that young readers may not notice. Both Nook’s gentle nature and the kindness and loyalty of her friends positively shine.

A sensitive character study with feelings that run deep. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5037-5848-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sunbird Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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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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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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