Again and again, a team of four-legged firefighters puts dinner on hold when a series of fires breaks out in the neighborhood. Barbour’s (The Ancestors Are Singing, above, etc.) folkloric illustrations are alive with energy and eye-popping color. In the opening spread, for example, the station bustles as the crew prepares a spaghetti dinner. A blue bear stands at a red stove; a lime-green elephant plays checkers with a Dalmatian in purple overalls; a yellow lion serves a platter of swirly pasta while a pink mouse, striped cat, and an alligator set the table. “The firefighters sit down and start to eat,” the authors begin. “But suddenly— / DING! DING! DING! DING!” The fire is at a flower shop. “Fire! Fire! Hotter! Hotter! / Hurry! Hurry! Water! Water! / The team works hard together. / Can they put out the fire?” Of course they can, and in a framed vignette, the shopowner shows her appreciation by presenting the crew with a bouquet. On the facing page, the firefighters sit around the dinner table, now beautified by flowers. But just as they’re about to eat, duty calls and the crew rushes off again. Youngsters are sure to join in as the alarm rings and the catchy refrain will likely have them chanting while the crew puts out each fire. The toy shop, the pet store, and the bakery are all saved. In the end, the firefighters finally get to enjoy their meal but, by then, it’s been augmented by loads of gifts. A joyful celebration of team work, sure to please the preschool set. (Fiction. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-029759-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2003

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Who hasn’t shared the aggravation of a whole day’s worth of bone-rattling hiccups? Poor Skeleton wakes up with a deadly case that he can’t shake, and it’s up to his friend Ghost to think of something to scare them away. Cuyler (Stop, Drop, and Roll, 2001, etc.) cleverly brings readers through the ups and downs of Skeleton’s day, from shower to ball-playing. Home folk remedies (holding his breath, eating sugar) don’t seem to work, but Ghost applies a new perspective startling enough to unhinge listeners and Skeleton alike. While the concept is clever, it’s Schindler’s (How Santa Lost His Job, 2001, etc.) paintings, done with gouache, ink, and watercolor, that carry the day, showing Skeleton’s own unique problems—water pours out of his hollow eyes when he drinks it upside down, his teeth spin out of his head when he brushes them—that make a joke of the circumstances. Oversized spreads open the scene to read-aloud audiences, but hold intimate details for sharp eyes—monster slippers, sugar streaming through the hollow body. For all the hiccupping, this outing has a quiet feel not up to the standards of some of Cuyler’s earlier books, but the right audience will enjoy its fun. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-84770-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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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. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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