Tag Archive: bedtime


Everybody Sleeps But Not Fred by Josh Schneider

Everybody Sleeps (But Not Fred) by Josh Schneider

Every type of animals has to sleep whether on the farm or in the jungle or underwater, but not Fred. Fred has far too much to do to sleep at all. Fred has to do his important jumping. He has to break the world shouting record. He has to test his horn collection. He has so much to do, much to the chagrin of the sleepy animals around him who keep getting startled from his activities. It isn’t until parents start to read poetry to get children to fall asleep that Fred too succumbs to slumber. Now it’s up to young readers to be quiet enough to keep from waking Fred up and starting it all over again.

Schneider writes in rhyme, jaunty and confident. He invites readers to see different habitats for the animals as they snore and snooze. The pacing is deftly done in this book, allowing a slow build up to each activity that then becomes zany and silly. It’s that dichotomy of pace that makes for a book that is a joy to share aloud and one that will make any bedtime a lot more fun.

Also adding to the fun are the impeccable illustrations. They are complete irreverent and silly, with sleeping pigs with tattooed bottoms, monsters who brush their teeth, monkeys in tutus, and a toucan who appears throughout in unexpected places. The illustrations are worth spending lots of time with since they are filled with small details. Many of the animals continue to subsequent pages along with Fred, joining in his adventures.

Smart, funny and a great bedtime story, this picture book will amuse even the most resistant sleepyhead. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Feet Go to Sleep by Barbara Bottner

Feet Go to Sleep by Barbara Bottner, illustrated by Maggie Smith

In a house on the beach, Fiona doesn’t want to go to sleep. She’s had such an amazing day that she doesn’t want it to end! But she is just a little tired after all that they’ve done. As she climbs into bed, she starts with her toes, telling them to go to sleep. She tells her feet next, remembering how they loved stomping in the waves. Then come her knees that had held her strong on the sand as she build a castle. Her legs are the next to go to sleep, after spending the day running. Her tummy ate lots of berries during the day and goes to sleep too. Fiona works her way all the way up to her ears, eyes and mouth, until finally her mind is quiet enough to sleep.

With a proven technique, Bottner demonstrates a way that children can calm themselves at bedtime by both taking control of their body and mind but also celebrating the day that they have had. The book shows the technique clearly rather that teaching it to the adult separately. This approach to bedtime is simple and calming, creating moments where child and parent can share what they found joy in during their busy day. Fiona’s mother stays with her for most of the process, but leaves as Fiona finishes on her own, shutting her ears and eyes to the activity around her and drifting gracefully off to sleep.

Smith’s illustrations use an inset image to show in the large portion of the picture the grand and sunny day that Fiona has experienced and then in a smaller and darker image Fiona putting a body part to sleep that matches the activity of the larger picture. The book shines with the joy of a beach vacation captured in all of its wild colors and sun. Yet at the same time it is an immensely soothing book with its focus on quiet and calm.

A bedtime book that just might result in actual sleep! This picture book shows a different way for parents to approach bedtime wiggles. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from digital copy received from Edelweiss and Knopf Books for Young Readers.

goodnight already

Goodnight, Already! by Jory John and Benji Davies

Bear is so very tired, all he wants to do is go to sleep.  But his next door neighbor, Duck, feels exactly the opposite and has never felt more awake as he reads a book on staying awake and drinks a pot of coffee.  As Bear climbs into bed and pulls up his blanket, ready to snooze, Duck comes over for a visit.  Duck offers all sorts of ideas of what they could do together, but all Bear wants to do is sleep.  Just when Bear is again about to fall asleep, Duck returns with a new idea to bake something.  But Bear once again sends him on his way.  When Duck comes in for a third time, Bear has had enough!   The evening though has time for one final ironic twist by the end of the book, one that will get readers giggling.

John captures both the very essence of being tired and wanting nothing more than to sleep and the zany energy that comes with insomnia.  It is that dynamic being thrust together in this picture book that leads to the hilarity.  It also helps that John has impeccable comic timing throughout the book, using repeating themes to really make the scenes pop.  The pace switches from one character to the next beautifully, the dozy slow of Bear and the yapping zing of Duck.

Davies’ illustrations capture the same shifts in energy and pace.  Duck’s entire home is bright yellow while Bear is surrounded by sleepy blues.  The silly additions of coffee and a book to stay awake make the situation even funnier.  The illustrations are deceptively simple, making this a very approachable book for children, one that conveys its humor right from the cover.

Perfect for kids who both love bedtime and hate it, as well as for their sleepy parents.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

midnight library

The Midnight Library by Kazuno Kohara

The Midnight Library only opens at night.  Then a little librarian and her three owl assistants help all sorts of animals find the right books.  The library was quiet and peaceful until a band of squirrels showed up looking for a place to practice.  Luckily, the library had an activity room where they could play music without disturbing anyone else.  It was quiet again until it started to rain, but it was raining inside the library.  It was Mrs. Wolf crying about something she read in a book.  The librarian and her assistants helped her finish the story and reach the happy ending.  Finally, it was time to close for the night and there was one very slow patron who would not leave, but the little librarian solved that situation happily too.  This is a clever and creative look at libraries and their services in a way that children will easily relate to.

Kohara is author of several other picture books all done in her signature style.  Here she cleverly takes a library and adds mystery by making it open at night.  The addition of animals as patrons also creates an interesting twist.  I also appreciated a library being depicted as a place that you can play music.  So often the focus is on the quiet and solitude, but this is one happening library!

Kohara uses the colors on the cover of the book throughout the story.  The deep blues and blacks are enlivened by the bright yellow-orange that forms most of the background.  Her use of printmaking techniques creates thick lines with an organic dappling effect.  These prints feel like woodblocks but have lines that swirl and curve unlike most block prints.

Clever, lively and great fun, this picture book is perfect for sleepy library fans.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

sleepyheads

Sleepyheads by Sandra J. Howatt, illustratedc by Joyce Wan

Head out on a journey in the night to find out where different creatures are sleeping.  Each one is tucked into the space they like best at bedtime.  There is the bear in his cave, the otter rocking back in the water, the pig in the hay, and many more.  Then the owl is on the page, not sleepy at all.  The book then turns to the house and the pets sleeping, but the little human bed is empty!  Where can that last little sleepyhead be?  Safe asleep in Mama’s arms. 

Simple and beautiful, this book has a gentle rhyme that soothes also with a rhythm that is like rocking to sleep.  Young listeners will get to identify the different animals as the pages turn, since the book leaves that up to the reader.  The quiet mystery of where the last sleepyhead is found is a wonderful little twist at the end, just right as children snuggle down to their own beds.

Wan’s art is dark and beautiful.  The night is lit with fireflies and the moon, the darkness deep and velvety but not frightening at all.  As the reader visits each dark page, there is always a source of light beyond that in the sky so that the characters themselves shine on the page. 

A wonderful bedtime read, this one shines with moonlight and dreams.  Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from copy received from Beach Lane Books.

chengdu

Chengdu Could Not, Would Not, Fall Asleep by Barney Saltzberg

Chengdu is a young panda who is having problems falling asleep.  Unlike all of the other pandas who are sleeping soundly on nearby branches, Chengdu just can not drop off to sleep.  He tosses and turns.  He tries different positions, even hanging upside down!  It takes him awhile, but he finally finds a perfect spot, and one that will surprise and delight readers.  But then, another little panda finds himself awake and what is he to do?

Saltzberg brings readers a clever and funny story of a little animal who cannot fall asleep.  The text is very simple and paired with large format illustrations that sometimes just features Chengdu’s eyes and other times show the very tired little panda looking straight at the reader in despair.  The resolution of Chengdu’s dilemma is very funny and satisfying.  It is guaranteed to get a giggle or two even from the sleepiest of listeners.

An ideal bedtime story, this book will have the littlest listeners happy and sleepy.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

goodnight songs

Goodnight Songs by Margaret Wise Brown

A new collection of previously unpublished poems from the master Margaret Wise Brown are illustrated here by twelve different illustrators.  According to the introduction by Amy Gary, the editor of the Margaret Wise Brown Estate, these poems were part of a trunk of unpublished manuscripts that Margaret’s sister had in her barn.  They reflect the interest that Margaret developed towards the end of her life in creating music for children.  The book is accompanied by a music CD that brings the poems into song.  This book is just as enjoyable as a song book or a poetry book, make sure to try it out both ways!

Brown’s poems are simple and lovely.  Some of them read like nursery rhymes with plenty of repetition of phrase and style.  Others are a bit looser but still musical even as words.  She created small worlds in each song, offering lovely gems of moments in each one.  I have a handful of top favorites from the book:  “The Mouse’s Prayer” which is a beautiful wintry poem, “Wooden Town” that evokes a childhood joy of creating a little world of blocks, and “The Secret Song” which is a question and answer poem that is quiet and lonely.

The twelve illustrators make up some of the top illustrators in today’s picture books.  There is a great pleasure in turning the page and seeing an entirely different feel with the next poem.  Some are bright and sunny, others deep colored like the night, and still others filled with snow.  The styles reflect each of the illustrators and as a whole the book works extremely well, giving each poem a distinct note of its own on the page.

A top pick for children’s poetry, these songs are a dazzling collection from a very talented writer.  Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

may the stars drip down

May the Stars Drip Down by Jeremy Chatelain, illustrated by Nikki McClure

Quiet and lovely, this is a picture book version of the lullaby by indie rock band Cub Country.   That song is haunting and beautiful with its slow pace.  This book is much the same.  The lyrics to the song read as a poem on the page, one that takes a child on a journey of dreams before returning back home again.  It is a book designed for reading at bedtime in the same soothing pace as the song. 

McClure’s cut paper art adds to the beauty of the book.  Done entirely in blues and whites, the book invites children to twilight and darkness.  Throughout the book the night is celebrated in its beauty, from the moon on the sea to the the owl winging past.  There is a sense both in the poem and the art that you are seeing into the secrets of the evening.

A gorgeous new version of a song, this book is ideal for bedtime reading and dreaming.  Appropriate for ages 2-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Abrams Books.

hannahs night

Hannah’s Night by Komako Sakai

When Hannah woke up one day, she was surprised to find that it was still night.  She tried to wake up her older sister, but she would not wake up.  So Hannah headed downstairs with Shiro the cat.  She checked on her parents and they were asleep too.  Hannah gave Shiro some milk, ate some cherries right from the refrigerator, and no one scolded her.  When Hannah returned to her bedroom, she checked again on her sister.  Then she borrowed her sister’s doll, her music box, and her art supplies and played with them on her bed.  As dawn arrives, Hannah gets sleepy again and falls back asleep.

Sakai has created a beautiful little book filled with the glow of the moon and the delight of the night.  What is done best here is the lack of drama or danger.  Instead it is a story of small mischiefs and safety.  The stealing out of bed itself is enough to drive the story forward and keeps the book moving yet doesn’t make it scary or frightening at all.  The matter-of-fact tone of the writing also adds to the peaceful feel of the book.

Sakai’s art is rich and textured.  Layered and filled with the blues of night, the images have a radiant delicacy.  The combination of rough edges and the detail of sleepy eyelashes create a book that is beautiful to look at as well as a pleasure to share aloud.

A nighttime story, this is one bedtime story that may not keep little wanderers in bed but is worth sharing all the same.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

time for bed fred

Time for Bed, Fred by Yasmeen Ismail

It’s time for Fred to go to bed, but this dog is not ready!  Instead of heading to bed, Fred dashes outside and tries to hide in the flower bed.  Then he hides in a tree until he falls out of it.  Fred then runs and lands in a huge mud puddle.  So then it’s bath time for Fred.  But just when he’s finally clean, he dashes outside once more!  Back inside, he hides in all sorts of places, even after he gets read a bedtime story.  Finally, Fred is moved to the right bed and falls asleep at last.

Fred is a dog that every toddler will relate to.  From his busyness as he dashes from place to place to his unwillingness to head to bed to the final collapse in exhaustion at the end of the day, Fred reacts exactly the way a young child does.  Ismail keeps the book moving quickly with her dialogue-only text that captures the reaction of the owner as Fred refuses to head to bed.  This makes the book great fun to read aloud as well.

Ismail’s art is reminiscent of Chris Raschka with her loose lines and free-flowing forms.  It is filled with action and movement as Fred runs through the garden on the loose.  The illustrations have a great ease and freedom to them that works particularly well with the storyline. 

An energetic and playful bedtime read, let’s hope your little puppies settled down at the end too!  Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from library copy.

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