The message—about the value of trying new experiences and learning to trust—lies lightly on this lively tale.

THE STORY OF DIVA AND FLEA

A large cat and a small dog strike up an unlikely friendship in this early chapter book.

Set in Paris—a setting charmingly brought to life in DiTerlizzi’s illustrations—the book introduces readers to Flea and Diva. Flea is a large cat who is also a flâneur: “someone (or somecat) who wanders the streets...of the city just to see what there is to see.” Flea's flâneur-ing is how he chances to discover Diva, a very small dog who guards the courtyard of the grand apartment building where she lives. At first Diva is afraid of Flea (as she is most things) and yelps and runs away. This makes Flea laugh, and he visits the courtyard daily. Eventually Diva strikes up the courage to ask Flea if he enjoys hurting her feelings, and Flea feels ashamed. The two become friends. Clever plot twists are woven into the storyline, as is the occasional French word, including the chapter headings. Willems’ adroit storytelling is on display as Flea encourages Diva to try flâneur-ing herself and helps her overcome her fear of feet, while Diva encourages Flea to try indoor living complete with regular Breck-Fest—a novelty in Flea’s scavenging street life—and helps him overcome his fear of brooms.

The message—about the value of trying new experiences and learning to trust—lies lightly on this lively tale. (author’s note, illustrator's note) (Animal fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2284-8

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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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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