"The World in a Second"
By Isabel Minhós Martins, illustrated by Bernardo Carvalho, translated from the Portuguese by Lyn Miller-Lachmann Enchanted Lion Books, ages 4-8, $18.95.
What is happening in different countries all over the world at this very moment? "The World in a Second" answers the question asked by curious children everywhere in spectacular specificity: "A boy balances himself on his bicycle for the first time"; "The dogs (and only the dogs) feel a tiny tremor in a Venezuelan city"; "A thief opens a door (perhaps to his own house, it's impossible to say)." Each moment leaps to life with vividly colored illustrations that spread across two pages and capture time and place with remarkably evocative detail and varied, exquisite composition. A key with a map at the back of the book lists the time and place of each of the 23 scenes: 1:32 p.m. in Angola; 8:02 a.m. in Venezuela; 2:32 p.m. in Italy. The central magic of this book lies in the sophisticated, elaborate treatment of an idea that sounds like it was plucked from a child's daydream.
"Tad and Dad"
By David Ezra Stein, Nancy Paulsen Books, ages 3-5, $16.99.
Parents who oppose the family bed, beware: "Tad and Dad" is a story about a struggle over co-sleeping. And the tadpole wins. Although the father frog tucks his son into his own lily pad each night, Tad always slips in beside his father and conks out.
Tad's active days — he practices singing and croaking and hopping like his dad — lead to some restless dreams for the young frog and sleepless nights for his dad. The sketchy lines of David Ezra Stein's playful illustrations perfectly capture both the buoyant energy of the boy frog and his beleaguered dad: Who knew bulging eyes could be so expressive?
Tad's exhausted dad eventually reaches the end of his rope, croaking in frustration: "Are you trying to drive me bananas?" Piqued, Tad swims away, but the separation doesn't last long. Like a prisoner who develops an attachment to his captor, Tad's dad now needs his son's company to sleep.
Nicole Lamy can be reached at email@example.com.