A pointed jab at wanton fearmongering, lightened by a bit of philosophy and rather a lot of gas.

ATTACK OF THE SNACK

From the Rabbit & Bear series

A sudden new arrival prompts a flare of xenophobia in Bear’s excitable lapine buddy.

Any resemblance to current affairs must, of course, be coincidental. Once the tiny feathered stranger who has crashed into a tree and fallen unconscious is identified as an owl, Rabbit, who has never met one before, is terrified. “Owls…eat you ALIVE! And the next day they BURP UP YOUR BONES!” he shouts. “Lock her up!” Failing in her effort to defuse the panic (“One bone at a time, or all of them at once?”), Bear sadly wanders off in search of blueberries as Rabbit proceeds to whip the other forest creatures into a frenzy. Happily, all ends well after Owl wakes up and calmly explains that she is a small burrowing owl who eats only fruit and bugs—mostly dung beetles. Embarrassed, Rabbit and the rest apologize and pitch in to furnish the owl with a comfy new home…liberally daubed with blueberry poo (Bear’s contribution) that, to the amazement of all, instantly attracts, as Owl puts it, “Fast foooooo…foooooo…fooooood!” Bear and Rabbit agree that everyone’s “normal on the outside” and “weird on the inside”—“And that’s OK.” Woodsy duotone scenes on nearly every page feature comically wide-eyed creatures of diverse size and species looking amazed, panic-stricken, or, in Owl’s case, disarmingly cute.

A pointed jab at wanton fearmongering, lightened by a bit of philosophy and rather a lot of gas. (Animal fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68412-617-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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