A rousing call to action for more racially diverse children’s literature.

DEAR READER

A LOVE LETTER TO LIBRARIES

A book-loving, brown-skinned, proactive young girl advocates for stories with characters that look like her.

Her appetite for books is so insatiable that she likes stories of all kinds, including those “full of thrones, quests, friendship, and dreams” and those “with brave heroines and heroes saving the day.” Although she views herself as a heroine, she has a “nagging suspicion” that she doesn't meet the “criteria for a heroine's condition” because not a single character in the books she loves looks like her. Searching for characters with brown skin who “do magic, fight villains, and find lost cities of gold,” she finds only stories of “struggle, hardship, and pain” and asks what it means “for a girl like me…to never see a face like mine.” Undaunted, she opts to create her own stories of “cocoa-colored mer-people, honey-hued dragon slayers, and superheroes with locs.” She invites readers to join her in making her “melanated words come to life” and in telling stories as “diverse as our skin.” The energetic, upbeat text employing the occasional rhyme transmits an urgency designed to prompt readers to action. Colorful and imaginative illustrations show the spunky protagonist engulfed by towers of books and transported to storybook worlds peopled by brown-skinned characters.

A rousing call to action for more racially diverse children’s literature. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1225-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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