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)