He’s got the music in him, and he can’t stop dancing.

While the big diggers move the earth and fill up the trucks at the side of the highway, a hard rain falls. The Roadman has a bit of trouble holding up his big stop sign. He’s chilly, bored, soggy, and fighting a cold. When a car pulls up, blaring out a rockabilly tune, Roadman’s toes begin to twitch, and he can’t help but dance along with the music. The same thing happens when a decorated station wagon drives by with a doo-wop song emanating from it. A truck blaring a country-music ballad gets his knees rocking back and forth. He also moves to a boogie-woogie beat, a rhumba, a saucy salsa, a bit of jazz, a brassy bugle band, and a dazzling disco track. He’s so busy dancing he doesn’t notice the rising water. “The river’s overflowed!” Quickly, he puts out his cones and closes the road. Traffic is likely to be stalled for hours. There’s only one sensible thing to do: invite everyone to “my Roadman’s Boogie Ball!” Robinson’s rhyming text gives the story a bit of a lift, but her illustrations don’t fulfill the promise of so many different styles of dance, and the idea of matching the music to the vehicles is only half realized, so spread after spread features nothing but the pale-skinned Roadman dancing against a gray, textured backdrop meant to evoke rain.

Unsatisfying. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-76036-012-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Starfish Bay

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Fun, fun, fun all through the town! (Picture book. 4-6)


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)...


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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