Review: Queen Panda Can’t Sleep by Susanna Isern

Queen Panda Can't Sleep by Susanna Isern

Queen Panda Can’t Sleep by Susanna Isern, illustrated by Mariana Ruiz Johnson (9781635920956)

When Queen Panda can’t sleep, none of her servants sleep either. After the Queen hasn’t slept for days, her servants send out a decree that anyone who can make the Queen fall asleep will win a bag of Chinese pearls. Many came to attempt to make the Queen sleep. She tried counting sleep from Mongolia, heard dull stories, listened to a lullaby from Paris. She swayed in a Kenyan hammock, was massaged with a branch from Australia, but nothing worked. Finally, someone came and yawned big, putting everyone else to sleep, except the Queen. With all of her servants fast asleep though, she had to cook her own meal and do other chores. Soon her eyes her drooping and she got sleepy!

This new twist on a traditional story where people are set a royal challenge has animals from around the world vying to put the Queen to sleep. With nods to a variety of cultures, the story is set in China with a very red-eyed panda as queen. The story sticks to the traditional format until the ending where the queen solves her own problem by getting busy and tired.

The illustrations have a folktale flatness to them that works well with the story. They have all sorts of animals in them from foxes to storks to cats and toads. The images use an interesting color palette of greens, oranges, and yellows.

A bedtime story that will hopefully have children snoring long before the Queen does. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.