With illustrations that are a feast for the eyes, this story embraces both adventure and bedtime for all the little merkids.


From the Ten Minutes to Bed series

Join a merchild as she swims through lush underwater scenes in an attempted bedtime escape.

In the newest title in Fielding’s Ten Minutes to Bed series, a mer-grandpa begins the bedtime countdown only to find little Splash missing. Like many children, mer and human, she doesn’t feel like sleeping yet. In the ensuing rhyming adventure, Splash leaps with dolphins, bravely dives deep beneath a wave, and joins a school of rainbow fish while sea creatures continue the countdown. “ ‘Seven minutes!’ called the crabs, / as they clacked their claws and feet.” When her tail tires, Splash bobs around the bay to rest until a shark’s looming shadow sends her hurrying to a peaceful beach. With only three minutes before bedtime, will Splash make it home in time? Luckily, a passing whale offers a ride. Splash careers through the ocean and swims into bed just as her grandpa calls the last warning. Finally, the adventurous Splash is happy to be home, for she has learned that “mermaids need their sleep!” Rich jewel-toned illustrations with brilliant coral reefs subtly become bluer—and cooler—as the story progresses. However, the text on several pages blends into the dark background, making reading a challenge. Splash and her grandpa have light brown skin, but Splash’s hair is black and his is white. Other merchildren are shown with dark hair and a variety of skin tones. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.45-by-22.84-inch double-page spreads viewed at 9.2% of actual size.)

With illustrations that are a feast for the eyes, this story embraces both adventure and bedtime for all the little merkids. (map) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-241-50231-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Ladybird

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.


From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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A friendship story for the young and vicious.


The ultimate showdown gets waylaid by an inconvenient friendship.

What could be cooler than a fire truck going head-to-head with a dragon? From the title, fans of Barton’s Shark vs. Train (illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, 2010) will be prepped for some major fire-and-water action. The three child protagonists certainly anticipate a humdinger of a battle, but unfortunately, antipathy is not on the menu. Turns out, Fire Truck and Dragon are the best of buds. Worse, they won’t even take advantage of their natural gifts. A campout sees them making shadow puppets with flashlights. A barbecue is just a chance for them to show off their “free-range potato salad” and “firehouse beans.” And don’t even bother inviting them to your birthday party, unless you just want them spinning you around before you try for the piñata. When at last the two do face off, what occurs? A staring contest. But readers shouldn’t give up hope. They haven’t seen how they say good night. Barton deftly upsets expectations, both for those familiar with his previous book and newcomers who know what “versus” means. Laughs come equally from the disappointed children in the book as well as readers’ thwarted guesses as to what is going to happen. And McCloskey’s daffy cartoons make a perfect complement to Barton’s high-wired hilarity.

A friendship story for the young and vicious. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-52213-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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