Five Things about FIVE MINUTES

Got five minutes? 

Is that a lot of time? Or a little?

Depends on what you’re doing, right?

That’s the concept behind FIVE MINUTES (That’s a lot of time) (No, it’s not) (Yes, it is) written by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Olivier Tallec (Putnam, 2019). 

Since you may only have five minutes to read this post, let’s get right to it. Here are five ways it works.

1.         Simple, clever, concise. The book, with just about 200 words, shows a kid experiencing five-minute increments that alternately drag and race by. The single-day, morning-to-night structure ties the moments together and brings the story full-circle. The final page shows the boy sweetly sleeping after a busy day. But we can already imagine the next day beginning as this one did, with his parents pleading for five more minutes of sleep. 

2.         Universal. All kids relate to how interminable five minutes can seem when waiting in line at the post office, or how fast the time goes by on a roller coaster. Grown-ups get it too.

3.         Learning opportunities. The simple language and repetition of words allows beginning readers to catch on quickly. The book also offers a way to talk about time in a kid-friendly way. 

4.         Illustrations. The text leaves plenty of room for visual storytelling. And Olivier Tallec takes full advantage of this, bringing lots of humor, emotion and sweetness to the story. Here’s a visit to the dentist which shows both ends of the mysterious five-minute-time-perception spectrum.

And here’s the final spread, just before we turn the page to see the boy sound asleep.

5.         Seepage.  Some stories find ways of sneaking into other parts of your life. I can imagine kids and parents saying things like “This five minutes is way too short” long after they’ve closed the book. 

The book’s premise feels so familiar that, like me, you might find yourself thinking “I wish I’d thought of that!” Which, of course, doesn’t mean it was easy to turn that simple concept into a full-fledged picture book. Still, if you sometimes follow the path of most resistance in your creative efforts, this book offers inspiration. Maybe there are ideas right in front of us, just waiting to be discovered.

Wanna brainstorm? I’ll set a timer for five minutes. 

Thanks for reading!


The winner of Brandon Reese’s CAVE DADA from last month’s post was Lenora Biemans. 

Linda Ashman

Linda Ashman is the author of more than 45 picture books, as well as The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books, a how-to guide for picture book writers. Her books have been included on the ‘best of the year’ lists of The New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, the American Library Association, the Children’s Book Council, and The New York Public Library, among others, and have been translated into many languages.


  1. Kim Pfennigwerth

    This book is So much fun! It is enjoyed time after time reading it. Audrey Vernick and Liz Garton Scanlon’s text along with Olivier Talkec’s art take the concept of how long or short five minutes can be to a laugh inducing level!

  2. Cindy Schumerth

    This is very clever and the artwork is so funny.

  3. I always enjoy Liz and Audrey’s collaborations and this one knocks it out of the park! Very fun and clever. Olivier’s artwork is hilarious…those eyes! Thank you for a great post, Linda!

  4. Creative, clever and cute! Cue the clock watchers!

  5. Oh, this is one of my favorites. Such a clever, funny story.

  6. Debra Kempf Shumaker

    I love, love, love this book!

  7. What a brilliant premise! Going to put it on hold right now.

  8. I just read this one. Great book! Two of my grands are obsessed with time, so I sent it next door for their enjoyment.

  9. This book is so clever! I’d love to read it to a class and have a discussion.

  10. I love the clever idea of the passage of time from a child’s perspective! Looks like a book I want to see.

  11. I’m not a bit surprised you love this book…humor and rhythms are superb as they are in your books. I love how you take it apart and help me understand more of the reason I love it!

  12. Good idea!

  13. What a perfect picture book!! Love this, Liz & Audrey, and Oliver’s illustrations bring it to life so well–congrats!

  14. Fabulous idea using familiar words all young children here! Very creative! Illustrations depict emotions so well! Congrats!

  15. So cute – thanks!

  16. You’re absolutely right: I wish I’d thought of that!

  17. Sheri Delgado Preston

    Super cool story!

  18. Wow , this is so clever. I too had a 5 More Minutes book in mind, but this one really captures the ups and downs. Thanks for sharing it!

  19. How fun. Five Minutes. Kids and parents will love this book!

  20. This is brilliant. Time does have this tendency to contract or expand depending on our own state. Love it. Thank you, Linda.

  21. I love this book; many thanks for featuring it! Brilliant in its simplicity!

  22. Very cute book! Thanks for sharing!

  23. Such a great premise! And you’re right; I’m thinking, why didn’t I think of it? LOL!

    I recently signed up for this blog and loved all it has to offer.

  24. So funny and clever. The illustrations are great.

  25. This looks adorable and so relatable!

    And thanks again for connecting me with Brandon. My son and I adore Cave Dada!

  26. Thanks for sharing this delightfully “simple” book with us.

  27. Pingback: Keeping Up with Picture Books – Susan Uhlig

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