Both sensitive and sensible: If some dragons can’t be vanquished, with time and help they can be borne.

MY BIG, DUMB, INVISIBLE DRAGON

The weight of profound loss looks just like a dragon as it sits atop a grieving child.

“Have you ever seen an invisible dragon?” the unnamed narrator asks, describing how just such a creature came one day out of the blue and changed everything—making it hard to get out of bed, casting heavy shadows, ignoring tantrums and attempts to bargain. Gradually, though, the dragon takes leave for ever longer intervals, and, at last, after a day in the park with a friend and then an eighth birthday party, even when present it seems less oppressive. The nature of the loss is never directly mentioned, but the narrator remarks that “We had to get used to movie night without her famous peanut brittle popcorn,” as the child snuggles disconsolately with a sad-looking adult, and Sif leaves further hints in glimpses of an open photo album and an extra apron in the kitchen. The semitransparent, cartoonish dragon never looks threatening; by the end it has not vanished but shrunk down to a manageable size. Finally, pointing out that the initial question about seeing an invisible dragon was silly, the child closes with a wonderfully perceptive insight: “You can never see one by looking straight at it. You have to look at the person underneath.” The white-presenting child is never gendered.

Both sensitive and sensible: If some dragons can’t be vanquished, with time and help they can be borne. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68364-184-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sounds True

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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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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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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