Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Summary: Daniel is just falling asleep when his parents get a call that his babysitter can’t come over. They are night janitors at a large office building, so they have no choice but to bring him with them. Daniel is sleepy and grumpy, but his parents tell him stories about the king, queen, and dragons of the paper kingdom. While they talk, they work hard: mopping, vacuuming, and cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen. Daniel is angry that they have to clean up after the king and queen. His papa tells him that some day he will be king, and his mama reminds him to be nice to the dragons when that day arrives. Daniel falls asleep dreaming of kings and dragons, and wakes up as he’s being tucked into bed. An author’s note tells of her own childhood and parents that inspired this story. 40 pages; ages 3-7.
Pros: A heartfelt story about a family struggling to make ends meet that reminded me of Night Job by Karen Hesse. The illustrations show a tiny living space–possibly a single room–and hardworking but cheerful parents. Their hopes that Daniel will have a better life are a reminder of the American dream that even the youngest readers will understand.
Cons: The “paper king” seems to have left about 100 sheets of paper on the floor of his conference room for the cleaners to pick up–pretty obnoxious.