Tiger is sleepy. Crocodile is sleepy. Both animals just need their bedtime kiss and then they can rest. However, the animals they meet seem afraid of their sharp teeth and aren’t forthcoming with bedtime kisses. Just when both animals are about to cry at their predicament, a sharp-toothed shadow comes towards them.
Sometimes flipbooks can feel a little gimmicky; done as a novelty to draw interest. This one, however, works beautifully. This is the fifth outing of Eoin McLaughlin and Polly Dunbar, and it’s a wonderful addition to their collaboration. Dunbar’s adorable animal characters are enhanced by the beautiful symmetry of the picture’s backgrounds; evening progresses from the lightest of pinks to the various blues of the night sky until the dual stories meet in the middle in a warm blue-grey wash of a star-filled sky and the kind moon. This central page, wordless as none are needed, features the animal family united in sleep. Entangled, the family echoes Klimt’s masterpiece ‘The Kiss’ which also gives the book its name. Mclaughlin’s dialogue between the young animals and the animals they meet on their respective journey’s to sleep adds a gentle humour to the book. Some pages remain wordless, others convey meaning with a question mark or small ‘x’. The decision to refer to the tiger’s crocodile father as ‘Tiger’s Daddy’ also emphasizes this turning away from over complicating the book and the family at its heart.
The story clearly celebrates blended families but as with the pair’s previous books the message is deftly handled and fluid enough that the book exists as a beautiful story which can be used as a conversation starter if so inclined.