The fun shines through, although adult readers weary of metafiction related to books may opt out.


Dunlap’s picture-book debut starts on the jacket flap with a welcome and assurances that this is truly a no-nonsense title.

Tallec imagines the first-person narrator as a straight-laced, bow tie–wearing, bespectacled mouse; the rodent appears in the empty white space carrying a book and potted plant. As it reads quietly on recto, back facing the gutter, the head of a Word-Eating Flying Whale (identified in the very book the mouse is reading) enters stage left. The audience is encouraged to ignore this disturbance. When the mammal returns with a Glow-in-the-Dark Kung Fu Worm, the urge to follow tiny footprints across the now-charcoal pages proves irresistible to the beleaguered protagonist—if only to quell the excitement. The turning page reveals a psychedelic dance party, and all bets are off. Toe tapping and bottom shaking take over. The mouse justifies the title’s promise at the conclusion, pointing out that the book “was not fun for YOU. / I had a great time.” Tallec’s adroit caricatures and talent for building visual drama are a welcome pairing with the monologue voiced by the scholarly rodent. Will young listeners catch the humor in the mouse’s understated observation that the music has “plenty of notes and a fine, sturdy rhythm” while the orange, brown, green, and blue creatures bop with abandon?

The fun shines through, although adult readers weary of metafiction related to books may opt out. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-55061-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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


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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