Hello, friends! Our book today is Bubble Kisses, written by Vanessa Williams and illustrated by Tara Nicole Whitaker, a fishy fairy tale based on Williams’s song of the same name.
As the story opens, we are introduced to the unnamed narrator, a cheerful, Afro-puff-sporting little girl with a seeming fascination for all things nautical, and her very best friend and pet goldfish, Sal. Others may wonder why she is so close to her fish friend, considering she can’t do the things that other pets may be able to do. The little girl explains that Sal gives her bubble kisses (though the book is relatively vague on what these are). The illustrations show Sal and the narrator embarking on an underwater adventure, exploring shipwrecks, finding treasure, meeting mermaids, and attending a lively party on the ocean’s floor, before revealing that it was all a dream.
Oh, man; I’m a big fan of Vanessa Williams, so I wanted to like this a lot more than I did. Unfortunately, there is so much in this title that simply doesn’t work that it’s hard to enjoy what does. As I said, the eponymous “bubble kisses” are never explained; not in the text – which is made up exclusively of the, frankly, mediocre lyrics of the song – nor in the artwork. Are they actual kisses? Are the dreams the kisses? Who knows? The dull and irritatingly repetitive lyrics make for a clunky reading experience, including having to repeat the phrase “bub-bub-bub-bub-bubble kisses” no less than four times. The artwork is charming, especially the musical instrument-playing sea creatures, and it’s nice that the mermaids display a diversity of skin tones (though their features and body types are identical). The length is fine, but JJ and I were both underwhelmed by the story (though it should be noted that she enjoyed the artwork and shiny dust jacket). The included CD version of Bubble Kisses is… fine; a peppy yet largely vapid swing-inspired kid’s song that doesn’t do Williams’s voice any kind of justice. Overall, this might be nice for a a fan of mermaid artwork, but is otherwise one to skip.
(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)