BOOK REVIEW: ‘Vanessa Williams Presents Bubble Kisses’ by Vanessa Williams, illustrated by Tara Nicole Whitaker

c.2020, Sterling
32 pages + CD

You can teach a bird to sing along with your favorite songs.

Dogs love to learn new tricks, if you’ve got the patience; cats, too, but that might take longer. If you’ve got a pet pony, you can do all kinds of things together, and even a gerbil or hamster is fun to play with. If you’ve got an aquarium, though, there’s not a whole lot of snuggling going on, and you can’t walk a guppy or throw a ball for it. Still, when people ask you why you love your fish, you know the answer. In “Bubble Kisses” by Vanessa Williams, illustrated by Tara Nicole Whitaker, you’ll know you’re not alone.

Oh, how she loved her pet!

Other kids had dogs that woofed and cats that scratched. They had frogs and guinea pigs or hamsters or ponies. Other kids had regular kinds of pets, but this little girl had special pet: she had a goldfish named Sal.

The thing was, Sal wasn’t just a fish. She was a “pal.”

Now, you might think a fish is not nearly as much fun as a puppy or a kitten. You might think that you can’t play with a fish. A goldfish isn’t like a bird or a deer that you watch from your window but that was OK. The girl and Sal had fun, especially when they played “lots of games together,” although mostly pretend ones.

But the biggest reason she loved Sal, though, was because Sal gave the girl “bubble kisses as she swims … in the water.” Sometimes in her dreams, the little girl swam like a mermaid with Sal, and they visited other mermaids for those “delicious” bubble kisses. She thought it was sad that from other “people’s lives such things are missing,” but she was lucky.

She had Sal, right by her bedside. All night long …

There is one very important thing parents need to know about “Bubble Kisses,” and it’s in two parts: as a book, this is really a no-go. It’s repetitive and not very interesting to read. But as a book with accompanying CD, it’s stellar and your preschooler will adore it.

Indeed, this book itself is mostly a vehicle for author Vanessa Williams’ song, which follows the words in this book identically — meaning, basically, that when your child requests it, you’ll be required to read song lyrics aloud. So many “bub-bub-bub-bub-bubble” recitations might make you want to call it a day and head for the shower.

But then, breathe deep and remember that you’re not a 2-year-old. Williams’ words are perfect for silly-singing, and the bouncy, light, super-memorable song is one your toddler will warble everywhere, all the time. With book-in-hand — and it’ll be in their hands often — kids can sing and follow along as you both admire the adorable artwork by Tara Nicole Whitaker.

Just beware that this isn’t a one-and-done book. It’s going to be repeatedly requested and you might get an earworm from it. Still, just one round of “Bubble Kisses” and your toddler-to-preschooler will sing its praises.

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