ALIEN & POSSUM

HANGING OUT

Possum and Alien are good friends who first met in Alien and Possum: Friends No Matter What (2001). Here, they play together and help each other understand their place in the world. In the first of three stories, Alien bemoans the fact that he is different from all the other living things in the forest, while Possum complains that he is merely one of “skadillions” of possums. They reassure each other that they are both unique and wonderful. The second tale is about a delightful, fun-filled birthday party. The last, reminiscent of Stellaluna (1993), shows our heroes sharing the joys of perching on a tree branch, each in his own special way. The plots are gentle expressions of friendship and acceptance. Johnston’s language is simple and straightforward, as befitting the easy-to-read format, but she does not sacrifice imagination or imagery. Repetition of words and phrases and generous use of contextual clues provide aid and comfort to emergent readers. However, an oversight in the layout might cause some confusion: a table of contents lists page numbers for the beginning of each story, but there are no corresponding numbers on those pages. DiTerlizzi’s cheerful, cartoonlike illustrations nicely complement and enhance the slight stories with a spirit of fun. Possum has a slightly goofy demeanor and Alien is very egg-like and even resembles Humpty Dumpty. A likable duo and an enjoyable romp for beginning readers who will be looking for the next installment. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-83836-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2002

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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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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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