Book Review: “Roll Up the Streets” by John Bladek

Roll Up the Streets cover

As I read the last few pages of John Bladek’s wonderfully silly story about evil corndogs, a superhero big brother, and sewage under the streets, I lay in bed with my flashlight just like when I was a kid. I was transported back in time, laughing with every page I turned. John’s masterful use of silly footnotes had me rolling, as did the sarcastic — and sometimes (reluctantly) sweet — voice of young Jake the corndog sleuth. The story is fantastic in more ways than one, and oftentimes I found myself laughing at the sheer silliness of it all, but that is what makes this story so perfect for reluctant young readers — especially boys. I, myself, will now be handing it over to my own nine-year-old son without hesitation, and I am certain he will love it just as much!

But there is more to this story than laughter. Jake’s relationships with his little sister Maggie and friend Sammie come off as entirely believable and entirely heartwarming, though never sappy. When Maggie draws a picture of her big brother the hero fighting off monsters for her, and Jake feels a surge of both pride and embarrassment as he goes to save the day (and her shoes), the reader knows that underneath all that sarcasm is a wonderful young man whom we can all look up to and love. The perfect imperfect hero. For this reason and more, little girls will also love Roll Up the Streets.

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