FOLLOWING GRANDFATHER

When her beloved grandfather dies, a grieving little mouse imagines she sees him in their favorite Boston haunts in this gentle story of intergenerational love and loss.

Jenny’s enterprising grandfather arrives in mid-20th-century Boston’s North End as a steamship stowaway and settles in the attic of Salvadore’s Spaghetti House, where he operates his own successful Italian restaurant. By the time Jenny’s born, Grandfather has retired and takes care of her, spooning warm milk over her pudding, teaching her to button her buttons and letting her fall asleep to the ticking of his pocket watch. Later, Grandfather escorts Jenny through the North End to meet his friends and to Revere Beach to search for shells. When she’s older, Grandfather encourages Jenny to be proud of her humble origins and never look at the snobbish “Lodges, Lowells, or Cabots with envy or shame.” Jenny follows Grandfather everywhere, until one day he’s gone, “never to come back,” leaving her desolate and diminished until she discovers his enduring legacy in a seashell. Writing with tenderness and humor, Wells creates an authentic, parallel, mouse-sized world within Boston while introducing readers to human-sized devotion and grief in the fully developed relationship between Jenny and Grandfather. Softly anthropomorphic black-and-white illustrations expressively convey the bond between a mouse and her inspiring grandfather.

Poignant and sweet . (Animal fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5069-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE SCHOOLS

From the My Purple World series

A color-themed vision of what school should be like.

In what amounts to a rehash of The World Needs More Purple People (2020), Bell and Hart address adult as well as young readers to explain what “curious and kind you” can do to make school, or for that matter the universe, a better place. Again culminating in the vague but familiar “JUST. BE. YOU!” the program remains much the same—including asking questions both “universe-sized” (“Could you make a burrito larger than a garbage truck?”) and “smaller, people-sized” (i.e., personal), working hard to learn and make things, offering praise and encouragement, speaking up and out, laughing together, and listening to others. In the illustrations, light-skinned, blond-haired narrator Penny poses amid a busy, open-mouthed, diverse cast that includes a child wearing a hijab and one who uses a wheelchair. Wiseman opts to show fewer grown-ups here, but the children are the same as in the earlier book, and a scene showing two figures blowing chocolate milk out of their noses essentially recycles a visual joke from the previous outing. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43490-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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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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