A cuddly tool to help children build positive associations around bedtime and mitigate common fears.


A cozy bedtime story and accompanying plush toy allow families to reframe the narrative of nighttime monsters.

After humans have gone to bed, nocturnal Monster awakens as guardian over the household. Monster monitors the night light, keeps an eye on shadows and an ear out for things that go bump, and chases away scary things under the bed. As Monster amuses the other toys with a bedtime story and other games, young readers can enact the scenario with the toy Monster and their other bedroom friends. Readers can also connect and expand upon Monster’s solo evening adventures, which include partaking in midnight snacking and having a bathroom accident. The narrative encourages questioning, offers affirmations, and invites interaction with a repeated refrain: “And then what did Monster do?” A starry-night theme carries throughout the pages of the book and onto the box containing the plush toy, which also contains a guide for grown-ups for further enrichment tips in how to reduce nighttime anxieties. Specific suggestions include having grown-up and child agree to Monster’s evening placement and the child’s setting Monster’s bedtime routine in the morning. Grown-ups can also encourage a child to talk through their worries and fears with Monster and think of suggestions for working through them. Book and toy are not sold separately.

A cuddly tool to help children build positive associations around bedtime and mitigate common fears. (Guide for grown-ups.) (Picture book & plush toy. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-970147-05-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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