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MERDADDY

Proof that playtime is fun time whether on land or under the sea.

Father and child thalassophiles bond in the ocean blue.

Merdaddy adores the water and shares his joy for the ocean with his merbaby. Whether the two are having a seaweed picnic with the sardines or floating “with the jellyfish / all the way up, / like underwater balloons,” Merdaddy, a burly, bearded creature with a fish’s tail and an anchor tattoo on his arm, expresses his love for his child through various forms of imaginative play. After surfing the waves with turtles and rescuing people lost at sea, Merdaddy notes that his merbaby’s “fingers / look like raisins” and “maybe it’s time to get out.” But Merbaby doesn’t want to leave the water and cries underwater tears that float upward. The scene shifts to a bathroom decorated like the sea and to a human child in a bathtub full of aquatic toys that mirror the animals seen earlier in the story. Merdaddy and Merbaby are father and child taking part in the nighttime ritual of bathtime before bed. Families will recognize an important part of their daily routine as well as the sometimes elaborate paths parents and caregivers need to take to get this task done efficiently. Paper collage illustrations provide texture to a bright, energetic aquatic world and bring to life the loving, playful relationship between father and child. Merdaddy and Merbaby are depicted in pinkish-tan colors; the child is not gendered.

Proof that playtime is fun time whether on land or under the sea. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 16, 2024

ISBN: 9780063280274

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

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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 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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