cover image Tiny Barbarian

Tiny Barbarian

Ame Dyckman, illus. by Ashley Spires. HarperCollins, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-288164-9

Growing up presents a number of challenges waiting to be “conquered,” from first steps to toilet training, so a boy named Tiny has no trouble imagining that he’s a Viking-esque hero like the one on a nearby marquis. “He saw himself defending his realm,” writes Dyckman (That’s Life!); “He saw himself protecting his family.” Plus, there’s “all that stuff”—the barbarian outfit, which light brown–skinned Tiny approximates with a colander for a helmet, a bathroom rug for a cape, and a cardboard tube as a club. With his trusty kitty beside him, he’s ready to bop anything lurking in the backyard, including a dragon (the hose) and a giant broccoli (a shrubbery). But with the arrival of bedtime, Tiny must conquer the “most challenging foe of all: THE DARK!” It’s a familiar story line and resolution, but readers should find themselves carried along by lively digital art and comic rhythms from Spires (Turtle and Tortoise Are Not Friends) that are reminiscent of a satisfying cartoon episode. Tiny, an indomitable, highly expressive protagonist, carries the tale, and his all-caps cry of “CONQUER EVERYTHING!”—set in ornate type—may very well start resounding through readers’ own pretend play. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Scott Treimel, Scott Treimel NY. Illustrator’s agent: Claire Easton, Painted Words. (July) [/em]