While beginning chapter books with African-American characters are rare and usually welcome, this particular installment in...

NIKKI & DEJA

ELECTION MADNESS

From the Nikki & Deja series , Vol. 4

Best friends Nikki and Deja are back in a tale of school elections and friendship.

Confident Deja is excited when Ms. Shelby tells the class that third graders will be allowed to run for student-body president, imagining herself in the role and doing everything she can to make it happen. Nikki is worried about the silent treatment her parents are giving each other, but Deja can only see as far as the election and appoints the reluctant Nikki as her campaign manager. After she insults Nikki, Deja is on her own to make posters and write the speech that has to be delivered in front of the whole student body. Deja’s self-absorption threatens to take over this slight story, making Deja less and less likable as the story progresses. It’s hard to see why Nikki remains friends with bossy Deja. She forces Nikki to hide forbidden candy; she tattles to her teacher about every little thing; she only thinks of herself. When Deja flubs her poorly conceived speech, though, Nikki steps in to help with the last day of the campaign, pumping a little life into it. Freeman’s occasional black-and-white illustrations capture the dramatic tension between the girls and Deja’s terror as she faces the microphone.

While beginning chapter books with African-American characters are rare and usually welcome, this particular installment in a usually sunny series falls flat. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: July 4, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-43558-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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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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