With a wholehearted commitment to silliness, Ering (Necks Out for Adventure!
) turns a bedtime anxiety tale into a swashbuckling adventure. He paints as exuberantly as he writes, scumbling, dripping, and swabbing mossy green swamps and orange sunsets. Hamilton—a bug-eyed, skinny-legged swamp creature—wields a brave sword by day, but worries about frackensnappers, skelecragons, and bracklesneeds at night. His anxiety drives him out of his own bed (well, his own mud) to his “secret hideout” right between his parents. They stoop to bribery, offering Hamilton a luscious grasshopper worm-cake with snake belly frosting. “You can eat it all for breakfast tomorrow,” his father promises, but “Tonight, you must stay in your own mud
.” That night, in a rip-roaring series of dreams, Hamilton finds himself on a balloon-powered ship with the monsters he dreads. Somehow, though, it’s not so bad: “They sailed through the air... Over magnificent and breathtaking things.” Hamilton is led on to the end of a rainbow, a reunion with his father, and peace with all monsters. Ering’s (and Hamilton’s) derring-do should make readers forget all about their own anxieties. Ages 3–7. (Apr.)