The inhabitants of Number 11 have crafted an enticing world, but there isn’t enough here to invite readers back for a second...

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ON MY STREET

This hit-or-miss rhyming catalog of the neighbors who live on the narrators’ (ostensibly the author and illustrator’s) street may leave readers wishing for more detail.

The unusual neighborhood features some true characters, each with a home that matches their occupation or personality. “Lightfingers” Louie lives at Number 2, and his concrete home includes bars on the windows, floodlights all around and a second-story balcony edged with barbed wire. The dancer lives in a Romani wagon–type house, while sailor Charlie Noble lives in a boat-shaped dwelling. Other residents include a cowboy, a queen, a cook and a man who has filled his house with empty bottles. The rhymes and rhythms mostly work, though the verses are too short to really introduce the eccentric neighbors: “Our Auntie, named Fritzi MacFluff, / Lives with her kitties, Sniffy and Snuff. / Her house is all knitted from yarn, / But you’ll find she gives not a darn!” Fienieg paints vivid portraits of the eclectic homes on the left-hand pages, their occupants opposite them. But a few may have readers (and parents) scratching their heads: Mr. Cree drinks tea and his house has distinct rounded towers—Middle Eastern? Russian? Or are they tea cozies? And in her fishbowl home, the Merry Maide’s voluptuous bosoms are not entirely contained within her seashells.

The inhabitants of Number 11 have crafted an enticing world, but there isn’t enough here to invite readers back for a second visit. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-9359-5424-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lemniscaat USA

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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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