A picture book that takes bedtime drama to a whole new level.


This is not your average bedtime story.

“ATTENTION, READER!!! / This book will get you to SLEEP./ It’s TRUE.” An excessively eager kangaroo, with a blue megaphone and snazzy blue boots, is up for the challenge of sending youngsters off to slumberland. Want to fall asleep? Pshaw, that’s easy. All you need are some monster trucks to roar by, “RUMBLING and BUMBLING and CRASHING.” Or maybe a menagerie of animals to lull you to sleep with screeching electric guitars: “RAOO RAOOO RAOOOOOOO!!! YOU ASLEEP YET?” Surely counting sheep will do the trick…except they’re running too fast for you to count them because they’re being chased by dragons! Tallec’s free-wheeling style shines as distraction upon distraction pile up on the book’s high-energy double-page spreads. John’s chatty narration and signature dry humor (“Hmm? / You’re wide-a—what? / You’re wide-AWAKE?”) propel the story with frenetic fun. Young audiences won’t hesitate to join in as the overzealous marsupial leads a stadium full of critters in a boisterous chant (“FALL ASLEEP! FALL ASLEEP! FALL ASLEEP!”), and the amusing sound effects are perfect for read-alouds. Alas, this book just may have the opposite effect of the titular vow; thankfully, a disclaimer is included on the cover. All characters are anthropomorphic animals. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A picture book that takes bedtime drama to a whole new level. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-31130-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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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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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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