Hello, Ben! We’re glad you’re here.

READ REVIEW

COME BACK, BEN

From the I Like To Read series

This excellent early reader will send new readers’ confidence soaring.

“Ben had a balloon,” begins the spare text, accompanied by a picture rendered in cut paper and ink showing Ben holding a red balloon aloft. The next spread shows only the lower portion of Ben’s body at the top of the page as his sister, standing on the ground below him, says, “Bye, Ben.” Ensuing pages show Ben soaring higher and higher up into the sky as first a window, then bees, a tree, a kite, a big hill, rain and a rainbow all call out, “Come back, Ben.” The repetitive text will reinforce new readers’ engagement, while Ben’s consistent smile (a simple, small u shape) provides reassurance that he is untroubled by his ascent into the sky—even when he reaches a smiling moon who says, “Hi, Ben.” Ben collects moon rocks in his pockets, and their weight triggers his descent back to Earth, past all of the things that called to him as he rose up to the heavens. When he returns to his home, art on the penultimate spread shows Ben waving from his window, “Bye, balloon,” he calls, but the balloon is absent from the page. A supremely satisfying page-turn shows Ben’s sister sailing upward while holding onto the balloon’s string. “Bye, Ben,” she calls.

Hello, Ben! We’re glad you’re here. (Early reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2599-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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

THE HIPS ON THE DRAG QUEEN GO SWISH, SWISH, SWISH

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

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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A lightweight fear-dispeller, without the gun violence that now makes Mercer Mayer’s There’s a Nightmare in My Closet (1968)...

MONSTERS AREN'T REAL

Beaten down by a ubiquitous chorus of denials (see title), a monster suffers an existential crisis.

Surrounded by emphatic claims that it doesn’t even exist, a monster sets out not only to prove the contrary, but to establish its scariness credentials too. Alas, neither blasting the world with graffiti and printed fliers nor rearing up menacingly over a baby in a carriage, children at the barre in a ballet class and other supposedly susceptible victims elicits any response. Juggling some cows attracts attention but not the terrified kind. But the monster’s final despairing surrender—“That’s it! It’s over! I give up! ... /  Monsters aren’t real (sniff)”—triggers an indignant denial of a different sort from a second, smaller but wilder-looking, creature. It takes the first in hand and leads it off, declaring “We’re two big, strong, scary monsters, and we’ll prove it.” In truth, it won’t escape even very young readers that neither is particularly scary-looking. Indeed, the protagonist-monster is depicted in the sparsely detailed cartoon illustrations as a furry, almost cuddly, bearlike hulk with light-blue spots, antlers and comically googly eyes, certain to provoke more giggles than screams.

A lightweight fear-dispeller, without the gun violence that now makes Mercer Mayer’s There’s a Nightmare in My Closet (1968) so discomfiting. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-61067-073-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

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