Pass.

READ REVIEW

KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! WHO'S THERE?

In this guess-who’s-knocking title, the clues are either too vague or too easy, the story is slight, and the illustrations are a tad pedestrian.

Set in a wintry clime at night, some things knock four separate times on Bear’s door. They each beckon to him. The first calls, “Boo!” A turn of the page reveals what Bear guesses is outside. On those pages, the illustration does not entirely fill the page but has the rounded border of a thought balloon. A ghost, an ogre, the “big bad wolf” and a “wicked witch” each demand to be let in. Readers witness poor Bear becoming increasingly frightened as the mysterious voices persist. Is his imagination getting the best of him, or is he right to be so cautious? The last rapping on the door, however, results in Bear declaring, “Go away! I do not open the door to strangers.” To his relief it is not a stranger but his tiny friend, Archibald. Bear is so happy to see his pal, he wipes the sweat off his brow and smiles. But then Archibald announces a surprise for Bear. He has brought the exact same scary creatures Bear was worrying about to dinner. Though Goossens attempts to create an interactive guessing game for readers and perhaps deliver a message of caution to not trust strangers, it fails to coalesce into an engaging read.

Pass. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4122-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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Fun, fun, fun all through the town!

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 Kids

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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