With whimsical paintings, some racial diversity, and a cat and mouse playfully adding to the visual fun, this retelling is...

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THE ELVES AND THE SHOEMAKER

From the My First Fairy Tales series

The Grimm tale is updated with pastel shades and a terpsichorean spin.

Stan and Jan, white husband-and-wife shoemakers, share their passion for dancing with their village neighbors, until winter comes, keeping customers away. When they are desperate, a fanciful pair of shoes suddenly appears one morning, multicolored and gleaming with stars. Immediately, a tall, white customer, Mr. Morris, complete with jaunty top hat, striped pants, long purple overcoat, and polka-dot umbrella, arrives to buy the shoes. The next day, the couple finds “three new pairs of shoes even more magnificent than the last pair!” (This series uses emphasis, exclamation marks, and variously sized type to excess.) Mr. Mack, a round, jolly, brown-skinned man, buys all three, and he and his horse ride away sporting their new shoes. Marvelous styles appear every day, and customers keep coming. One night, Stan and Jan decide to wait for their saviors. At midnight, they spot the elves (two white and one black) wearing raggedy clothing (not naked as in the original). The couple makes new clothes and dancing shoes for the helpful elves using apple seeds, dandelion leaves, and daisy stems. The illustrations present a smiling multiracial community, realizing it in lavenders, pinks, and turquoises that make it a little hard to see the shoemakers’ short-lived distress.

With whimsical paintings, some racial diversity, and a cat and mouse playfully adding to the visual fun, this retelling is worth considering. (Picture book/fairy tale. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-84869-081-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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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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