Young audiences eager to strike out on their own, but not too far, will enjoy the sylvan stroll’s limited interactivity.

READ REVIEW

THROUGH THE FOREST

A walk in the woods, with choose-your-own routes.

Mother Forest, a pink-skinned figure with red cheeks and straight black hair, invites readers to choose one of two paths through her domain, inviting herself along to comment chattily about forest sights. Each option offers encounters with (Eurocentric) wildlife, from families of foxes and badgers to a green woodpecker and a wild boar, and each brings wanderers safely home at the end. As choose-your-owns go, this is a rudimentary example. The narrative often offers just one option to take, and since all of the page flipping is forward, never back (aside from invitations to start over at the end and, once, partway through), the possible itineraries are short ones. Moreover, a supposedly complete map at the end confusingly leaves out several connecting pathways. Still, with a broad, brown path winding through to trace with a finger, Brocoli’s painted scenes of stylized wildlife in woodsy settings look bright and busy without sacrificing an idyllic air. And, to expedite page flipping, the numbered stops are flagged by leaf-shaped protruding tabs that run in a colorful, irregular row down the right edge.

Young audiences eager to strike out on their own, but not too far, will enjoy the sylvan stroll’s limited interactivity. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-500-65076-9

Page Count: 33

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Fun, fun, fun all through the town!

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 Kids

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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