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Whether on the fairy-tale shelf or the Halloween one, this notably nondiverse book may tickle readers with similar...

A white girl who really loves fairy tales is surprised one day when a bunch of fairy-tale characters visit her home and ask Frankie to hide them from the witch.

A white fairy-tale princess is first, stepping through Frankie’s bedroom window in a sparkly blue ball gown. She is hidden under the bed, while the unicorn that follows is pushed into the wardrobe. The white mermaid in the bathtub? The shower curtain hides her nicely, and the clanking, suntanned white knight in armor fits in well amid the pots and pans under the kitchen sink. A frog hides in the corn flakes box, and the white king, lampshade over his head, makes a regal lamp in the hallway. But who will hide Frankie from the witch? The girl bravely stands up to the green-faced, pointy-nosed witch, but the magic broom finds all the fairy-tale characters in short order. “Whose turn is it now?” Wait, what? Yep, this is a game of hide-and-seek, and Frankie is now it. Lenton’s illustrations combine soft shades with pops of brighter colors, and there are humorous details on every page, especially the page where Frankie finds the frog, her mouth and eyebrows showing her displeasure with the amphibian lounging in her cereal bowl, one front leg supporting his head and his back legs jauntily crossed.

Whether on the fairy-tale shelf or the Halloween one, this notably nondiverse book may tickle readers with similar interests, though perhaps only once. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6625-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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

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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. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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