Mercy Watson fans will flock to this whimsical new series for developing readers.

STARLA JEAN

WHICH CAME FIRST: THE CHICKEN OR THE FRIENDSHIP?

From the Starla Jean series , Vol. 1

A girl and a rescued chicken become best friends in a new series for developing readers.

When Starla Jean finds a skinny, bug-eyed chicken at the park, her dad promises her if she can catch it, she can keep it. To her father’s dismayed surprise, Starla Jean does indeed catch the chicken, immediately naming her Opal Egg. The more she learns about Opal Egg, the more Starla Jean wants to keep her, but what if the chicken belongs to someone else? This series starter features Starla Jean’s exuberant first-person narration, liberally punctuated with dialogue with her family and neighbors. Readers transitioning to early chapter books will appreciate the four short chapters and the limited amount of text per page, wide margins, and ample space between lines of text. Occasionally, the white space around the text is humorously interrupted by bold, red chicken sound effects. Soft, textured cartoons in muted colors further the comedic storytelling and provide readers natural places to rest their eyes. Present on every double-page spread, illustrations range in size from small pictures set within the text to expansive illustrations taking up most or all of a spread. The setting is quaint, a rural town with picturesque stone bridges and old-fashioned houses. Starla Jean’s family is depicted with light-brown or dark hair and pale skin. Elderly neighbors are depicted with pale or light tan skin and white hair.

Mercy Watson fans will flock to this whimsical new series for developing readers. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-30576-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 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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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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