Silly bedtime fun.

A bedtime storytelling bonanza.

Jamie requests “A made-up one” when his dad asks him what kind of bedtime story he’d like. Then he immediately provides the titular cast of characters for this story within the story, and his dad dutifully begins to spin a yarn. His rambling storytelling is punctuated by Jamie’s questions and interjections, which he integrates into the tale. It’s notable that neither Jamie nor his dad are on the book’s cover, and while Jamie and his dad present black, with brown skin and curly, black hair, the Prince protagonist has lighter skin and straighter brown hair in the digital illustrations depicting his imagined escapades with fierce bears and such. The Princess, who appears later in the story, shares the Prince’s skin tone (in most pages, though this is an inconsistent feature of her visual characterization) but has hair texture more like Jamie’s. Her role runs counter to typical damsel-in-distress narratives since, as Jamie notes, “Mom says Princesses in stories are rubbish.” A Witch with an Evil Eye (and a tiny frog in her pocket) is the antagonist until she and the Prince and Princess make amends, but this occurs only after many (perhaps too many?) silly escapades. The happily-ever-after ending is reinforced by Dad’s affectionate goodnight kiss to Jamie, with a promise of more stories to come.

Silly bedtime fun. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61067-849-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019


Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses...

This tan-skinned, freckle-faced narrator extols her own virtues while describing the challenges of being of mixed race.

Protagonist Lilly appears on the cover, and her voluminous curly, twirly hair fills the image. Throughout the rhyming narrative, accompanied by cartoonish digital illustrations, Lilly brags on her dark skin (that isn’t very), “frizzy, wild” hair, eyebrows, intellect, and more. Her five friends present black, Asian, white (one blonde, one redheaded), and brown (this last uses a wheelchair). This array smacks of tokenism, since the protagonist focuses only on self-promotion, leaving no room for the friends’ character development. Lilly describes how hurtful racial microaggressions can be by recalling questions others ask her like “What are you?” She remains resilient and says that even though her skin and hair make her different, “the way that I look / Is not all I’m about.” But she spends so much time talking about her appearance that this may be hard for readers to believe. The rhyming verse that conveys her self-celebration is often clumsy and forced, resulting in a poorly written, plotless story for which the internal illustrations fall far short of the quality of the cover image.

Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses the mark on both counts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63233-170-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eifrig

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018


Fun, fun, fun all through the town!

This book’s gonna werk, werk, werk all through Pride Month and beyond.

Drag persona Lil Miss Hot Mess rewrites “The Wheels on the Bus” to create a fun, movement-filled, family-friendly celebration of drag. The text opens with the titular verse to establish the familiar song’s formulaic pattern: “The hips on the drag queen go SWISH, SWISH, SWISH… / ALL THROUGH THE TOWN!” Along the way, more and more drag queens join in the celebration. The unnamed queens proudly display a range of skin tones, sizes, and body modifications to create a diverse cast of realistic characters that could easily be spotted at a Pride event or on RuPaul’s Drag Race. The palette of both costumes and backgrounds is appropriately psychedelic, and there are plenty of jewels going “BLING, BLING, BLING.” Don’t tell the queens, but the flow is the book’s real star, because it encourages natural kinetic participation that will have groups of young readers giggling and miming along with the story. Libraries and bookshops hosting drag-queen storytimes will find this a popular choice, and those celebrating LGBTQ+ heritage will also find this a useful book for the pre-K crowd. Curious children unfamiliar with a drag queen may require a brief explanation, but the spectacle stands up just fine on its own platforms.

Fun, fun, fun all through the town! (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6765-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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