A wild ride with oddly assimilated educational substance.

MIGHTY READER MAKES THE GRADE

From the Mighty Reader series

It’s the day of the state test, and the students need help from Mighty Reader to fight their fears, calm their nerves, and remember their skills.

Lulu, a young anthropomorphic dog, wakes up in bed, upset because she’s overslept on the day of the state test. She stumbles out the door to find the world transformed. Scary beings embodying her fears surround her: an oversized pencil, a fire-breathing book, a sinister eye that glares from a triangle atop a stack of different books. Lulu cowers by a fire hydrant, hoping to be rescued before the fears can take her brain away. Mighty Reader, a dog superhero, shows up just in time, with a special T-shirt and reading technique. The fears are tamed, and the day is saved. Now, in an abrupt turn of events, Lulu wakes up from this nightmare ready to face the real test. At school, the teacher has calming stations prepared, but the students need Mighty Reader to get ready for the test. With a combination of panels and full-page illustrations, and more speech bubbles than narrative text, this book reads like a comic and feels like one too, with its fast dramatic action. The didactic lesson about reading techniques (take turns reading, “talk the pictures,” etc.) is given a full spread before the students are shown quietly taking the test with smiles on their faces—a mixed message that gives the ending an odd feeling. Despite the chaotic structure and awkward ending, this book will likely help some students acknowledge anxiety about tests, a first step to conquering it.

A wild ride with oddly assimilated educational substance. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4499-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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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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