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Epic 18 Twofer Tuesday: Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime! and Iver & Ellsworth

Unlikely friends have delightfully different,
unexpected adventures in two new picture books
from debut, Epic 18 authors.

Written by Cate Berry
Illustrated by Charles Santoso
(Balzer + Bray; $17.99, Ages 4-8)


Written by Casey W. Robinson
Illustrated by Melissa Larson
(Ripple Grove Press, $17.99, Ages 4-8)

are reviewed today by Cathy Ballou Mealey.

Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don't Do Bedtime! cover imageWhat do a penguin and a shrimp have in common? It’s their dogged insistence that PENGUIN & TINY SHRIMP DON’T DO BEDTIME!, no matter what sleep aids and comfy settings surround them. Author Berry poises the pair in the midst of a typical toddler bedtime routine. With toothbrushing over and jammies on, Penguin and Shrimp remain positive that they are not heading to bed. Their anti-bedtime speech bubbles pop in counterpoint across the page, tracking their sleep evasion tactics despite big soft beds, cozy covers, or squishy soft pillows.

The story quickly ramps up as the pair celebrate colorful fireworks, escape from lions, swing on rainforest vines and ride hot air balloons. Minute by minute, they grow zanier and more out-of-control as their desperate-but-denied need for sleep escalates. Song, jokes, and the arrival of a uni-hippo aside, the pair confidently assert that,  “One thing this book will never do is make you tired … This book will never make you yawn.”

Santoso’s comic digital art contradicts and amplifies the duo’s predicament in bright, strong colors and crisp outlines. Penguin and Tiny Shrimp gush personality with big eyes and expressive mouths which eventually–inevitably–transition to droopy eyelids and gigantic yawns. The fun and games draw to an appropriately snoozy conclusion that will ring true with all parents who must wrangle not-sleepy kids and toddlers to bed.


Iver & Ellsworth cover illustration Another unlikely pair, a solitary senior factory worker and an immense, inflatable polar bear, star in IVER & ELLSWORTH, a sweet story about steadfast friendship and devotion. Iver, a trim, mustachioed gentleman with square rimmed spectacles, packs his lunch and heads to work in an urban factory. Ellsworth, a chubby and observant bear, remains tethered to the factory roof. High above the city, the stationary bear watches the world rushing by. Iver visits at lunchtime, offering commentary on the view and bustling traffic.

Robinson makes it clear that the two share a bond built over many years. Iver tenderly cares for Ellsworth season after season. He dries away spring rain, sweeps away autumn leaves, and clears snow before his daily final check to make certain the anchor ropes are secure. But one day, the day Iver is retiring from his factory job, he is slow to perform his tasks and say farewell to his faithful, inflatable friend.

Illustrator Larson employ several wordless spreads to show us the separate adventures that unfold next. Iver begins to embrace retirement, and Ellsworth becomes unmoored from the factory roof. Her delicate pencil and watercolor images are restrained and subtle, ranging from muted gray greens to glorious rosy sunsets. The peaceful landscapes pair beautifully with Robinson’s spare, understated text, leaving ample room for readers to absorb and appreciate this unique friendship tale that ends with joyful reunification. IVER & ELLSWORTH is a cozy book perfect for reassuring readers that true friendship endures.

  • Reviewed by Cathy Ballou Mealey


Where obtained:  I reviewed either an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher or a library edition and received no other compensation. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Read another of Cathy’s recent Epic 18 reviews here



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Utterly Lovely One

Today’s review is by Krista Jefferies

Utterly Lovely One ($16.99, Candlewick, ages 2 and up) by author-illustrator Mary Murphy is a simple declaration of a mother’s love.  This isn’t exactly a story, but more of a lesson from a mama bird to her baby that while there are countless lovely creatures in the world, hers is the loveliest of them all.  It is a mantra that every parent can relate to, as well as any aunt, uncle, or grandparent who has a little one to adore.  Though I have no children of my own, I easily feel this way about my nieces and nephews who, to me, are obviously the most wonderful children in the world—of course, I am biased, but aren’t we all when it comes to the little angels who tug at our hearts.  While some may criticize this book for not having a proper storyline, I believe it tells the oldest and most relevant story of all—the story of love and devotion.  It also sends a positive message to children that all kids are special in their own way, and everyone is loved by someone.

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Making Three Square Meals A Lot of Fun

You Are What You Eat: And Other Mealtime Hazards

41eiew22lul_sl500_aa300_I’ve reviewed a few of Serge Bloch’s books before, and I have loved them all. The cuteness factor of You Are What You Eat: And Other Mealtime Hazards (Sterling, $12.95, ages 4 and up) is off the charts.

This clever little book is basically a list of clichés about food paired with adorable, literal illustrations and photographs to introduce young children to nutrition and also to thoroughly entertain parents. Sometimes the simplest books are the best, and this is certainly one of them! You’ll enjoy reading this with your children. I know I’m going to share my copy with someone very special to me.

debbieglade1Debbie Glade, today’s guest reviewer, is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for She blogs daily at

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Put on a Hoppy Face!

Regular Contributor Lindy Michaels of BookStar on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City claps her hands with approval for IF YOU’RE HOPPY ($16.99, HarperCollins/Greenwillow Books, ages 2-5), written by April Pulley Sayre with illustrations by Jackie Urbanovic.


Who doesn’t know and love the musical ditty, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands…?” But what if you’re HOPPY and you know it? What are you? Are you a frog? A bunny? What, I ask! Since they’re all HOPPY, you could be any of them or more, right?

Now, let’s see… what if you’re SLOPPY and you know it, what are you? No, no, your extremely messy children don’t count. But they will love this sing-songy, adorable, colorfully illustrated book as they try and guess who is GROWLY and FLAPPY and… well, you get the picture.

What I love about IF YOU’RE HOPPY is that it’s fun and silly and will even encourage little ones to come up with their own thoughts on who is hoppy and floppy and so on and so on!

But a warning! You can’t just read IF YOU’RE HOPPY. No, no, no. I insist that you sing it! And that will make you and your tots… happy. And if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!

lindymichaelspic1The very versatile Lindy Michaels aims to inspire young minds through children’s literature. Lindy owned L.A.’s first children’s bookshop, OF BOOKS AND SUCH (1972-1987) where she did storytelling, taught drama to children, had art and poetry contests and the like. According to Lindy, “It was truly a ‘land of enchantment.” She also spent years lecturing on realism in children’s literature at colleges in the state. For close to five years Lindy has worked for Studio City Barnes and Noble (BookStar) in the children’s section and does storytelling every Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

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