Brown Baby Lullaby by Tameka Fryer Brown, illustrated by AG Ford (9780374307523)
A family of father, mother and baby play across the pages of this picture book. As the sun begins to set, they head home from a day outside. Baby heads across the floor, crawling and almost standing. As dinner is being made, he throws things out of his playpen. Then he gets to bang pots and pans for awhile before dinner. He gets fussy and hungry just in time to make a tremendous mess eating. Then it’s bath time before getting ready for bed. The family dances together until it’s time for stories and sleep.
This book is just perfect for little ones, allowing brown babies to see themselves on the page and babies of other colors to celebrate them. The family is warm and lovely, just right for a toddler bedtime read. The cozy factor is huge here, rather like a hug made into a book. The sprinkling of Spanish phrases throughout the story adds so much. Ford’s illustrations glow with warmth on the page, filling them with toddler activities in a busy family.
A beautiful glimpse of an evening in the life of a family. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from copy provided by Farrar Straus & Giroux.
Lilah Tov Good Night by Ben Gundersheimer, illustrated by Noar Lee Naggan (9781524740665)
After a long day on their farm, the small family eats dinner together and then pack their belongings. The moon rises as they say goodbye to the hens and chicks they are leaving behind. The family stops to take shelter in a cave on their journey, wishing the bats that fly around them lilah tov, good night. They say good night to the beach as they climb aboard a small boat. Lilah Tov to the stars and the clouds. Good night to the mountains they walk into and to all the animals along the way, until they arrive at their new home.
Gundersheimer based this picture book on a Hebrew lullaby and weaves in a story of a refugee family leaving their home and heading to a new one. The book is quiet and full of grace, just right for a bedtime story. It weaves together saying goodnight all along the way, embracing the silence of the night.
Naggan’s illustrations are filled with hope. The little girl experiences the entire journey as one of wonder and excitement. The worry on the adult faces though creates somber moments throughout. The illustrations capture that this is a Jewish family as they carry their menorah with them. The pages are illuminated by the light of the moon and the stars.
A graceful and powerful lullaby entwined with the story of a refugee family. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Nancy Paulsen Books.
Bedtime for Sweet Creatures by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon (9781492638322)
A small child does not want to go to bed in this poetic look at bedtime struggles. The book begins with the word “no” being chanted like a drum beat. The child asks “who” like an owl as if there is someone else heading to bed. Their mother takes the teddy bear and heads off towards the bedroom. Once in bed, there is growling like a bear, hissing like a snake due to monsters, and even roaring like a lion to check beneath the bed. Fawns and squirrels appear as a storybook is shared. The child hugs like a koala for a final kiss. Then there is water to drink and the bathroom to use before the child may or may not head to their own bed and sleep.
Grimes takes the battles of bedtime and turns them into a menagerie of animals who fill the pages with the reactions. The process of bedtime negotiations is rather like lions and snakes for parents at times. I appreciate that the process is imperfect and at times filled with the child’s strong emotions. As always, Grimes’ writing is marvelous. Her words are energetic and the combination of behavior and animals is clever.
The art by Zunon is done in vibrant mix of collage and painting. The character’s faces are detailed and expressive, while the various animals are done in a colorful and stylized format. The child could be any gender, which makes this book all the more inclusive in addition to having an African-American family of characters.
A poetic and animal-filled bedtime story about bedtime. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky.
Just in Case You Want to Fly by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Christian Robinson (9780823443444)
This poetic picture book invites children to take a journey, up into the sky with the some wind, a feather, and a butterfly’s wing. On the adventure, there is are other things offered just in case. Just in case you get an itch, here’s a scratch on the back. Here is a fork and a spoon, a rock and a wish. There are jokes, bells that ring, and your toothbrush too. Honey for tea, a pillow for bed, a blanket, a dream and kisses on the head.
This book is exhilarating and filled with dreams of journeys large and small. It makes a regular day seem like it is full of magical moments, where pennies are wishes, bells ringing are special, and snacks are gifts. At the same time, it doesn’t look away from larger magic like rhinos on the pages, favorite giraffes and umbrellas in the bath. It’s a book full of delights and wonders.
Robinson’s illustrations add to Fogliano’s poetry. He embraces the whimsical nature of the text, creating beauty in the every day too. His pages are filled with characters of different races, all merrily playing together and eventually heading to bed.
A marvelous bedtime read all set to create gorgeous dreams. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy provided by Holiday House.
The Wolf Will Not Come by Myriam Ouyessad, illustrated by Ronan Badel (9780764357800)
A little bunny is going to bed, but he has lots of questions for his mother about wolves. She reassures him that a wolf will not come that night. Still he isn’t satisfied. She explains that wolves are not as common anymore due to hunting. She explains that they live in woods. But there is a small woods near their house. Perhaps the wolf is a very good hider too, plus he looks like a big dog. It sounds like he might be able to get to the rabbits’ house after all. Still, he has to cross traffic, find the right address, sneak inside without the door code, and take the elevator. But the little rabbit has answers for all of these obstacles. So will the wolf arrive?
The story is cleverly told with one page reflecting the little rabbit’s quiet bedroom and the other the wolf steadily making his way closer and closer through the obstacles the mother rabbit is describing. There is a great tension and expectation to the book, but I doubt that anyone will see the twist of the ending coming. It’s a wonderful surprise even as one sees the wolf heading towards the rabbits.
The illustrations play a huge role in the book, showing the wolf as the mother rabbit describes things. The book uses shadows, light and dark very effectively to show danger and safety, fears and expectations.
Funny and surprising with just the right touch of danger. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
Music for Mister Moon by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (9780823441600)
A collaboration between the Steads is always reason for joy. This picture book explores the imagination of Hank, a young cellist who simply wants to play all alone. When her parents suggest that she play in public, she doesn’t think that sounds good at all. So she imagines them as penguins and heads for her room which she imagines is an isolated warm room. But just as she starts to play, an owl hoots outside. Hank eventually tosses a teacup at the owl but then her cozy home starts to fill with smoke. She discovers that the moon has been hit by her teacup and fallen down to sit atop her chimney. Together, Hank and moon have a series of adventures from buying the moon a warm hat to taking a boat ride. Will Hank play her music for the moon? And how will the moon return to the sky again?
This story is intensely whimsical and lovely. From the very first page, the tone is set and readers will realize they are in a different world. This is partly because of the lightness and ethereal beauty of the illustrations. Filled with chalky color, their fine lines show a world populated with animals, coziness and quiet.
The writing is equally delicate, moving through the tale and inviting readers to linger a while and hear the cello music too. Hank is an intriguing character, a girl who loves music but not performing. She is also a girl with an intense imagination, creating teacups and flinging them high enough to tap the moon. She allows her emotions to become items she places around her, and so the journey with the moon becomes all the more beautiful.
A bedtime story that is beautiful, moonlit and filled with music. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy provided by Neal Porter Books.
Sweet Dreamers by Isabelle Simler (9780802855176)
Enter the dreams of creatures around the world in this picture book. The dreams of the animals can be surprising like the sloth dreaming of racing and moving fast without moving at all. They can also be more logical, like the ant who dreams of dots marching in single file. Other animals are shown in their habitat and their unique way of sleeping like the swallow who sleeps while flying, the flamingo who has pink dreams, or the frog who sleeps in the mud. Each animal is given a short poem about their slumber, creating a book that is ideal for bedtime but fascinating enough to return to again and again.
Simler’s writing is exquisite. By using different approaches to the various animals, she creates a book that explores the wide variety of creatures in our world while focusing specifically on how they sleep. There are the animals who are prey that sleep looking for security and safety while the predators like the lion with a full belly don’t need to worry about that. The illustrations in the picture book are equally successful with their touches of neon orange illuminating the night. Done in fine lines, the pages use their mostly black backgrounds very successfully as the creatures shine against it.
A delightful mix bedtime and beasts. Appropriate for ages 5-8.
Reviewed from copy provided by Eerdmans.
Dream Flights on Arctic Nights by Brooke Hartman, illustrated by Evon Zerbetz (9781513261898)
An Alaska-themed bedtime story, this picture book matches gorgeous illustrations with rhyming verse. A boy makes a nighttime wish that he could fly and a raven appears at his window, ready to carry him away. The boy climbs on his back and they fly together, seeing all sorts of Alaskan wildlife along the way, such as wolves, ptarmigan, bears, and sea lions. For awhile, the boy flies on his own near eagles, then a snowy owl takes him even further on his journey. The northern lights appear in the sky, and the boy floats with the colors and the stars. Then the raven returns to fly him back to bed just as dawn begins to break.
Hartman’s poetry is rhyming and gentle. She takes readers on a beautiful journey through her native state, allowing them to see the incredible animals and natural features that make Alaska so special. Throughout, the child is enjoying his flight and in control of his journey through the sky. There is a sense of thrill and joy as he makes his way.
The art in the book is exceptional. Done in linocuts, the illustrations are dramatic and very effective. With the darkest of black backgrounds, the stars, animals and northern lights shine like lanterns on the page. The images have a feel of mythology and honor nature.
A unique look at Alaskan wildlife and nature. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
Sleepy the Goodnight Buddy by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Scott Campbell (9781484789698)
Roderick hated to go to bed, so he would make all sorts of requests and excuses to delay bedtime. Then his parents got him Sleepy, a toy that would help Roderick fall asleep. At first, no matter where Roderick put Sleepy in his bedroom, he could feel Sleepy’s staring eyes on him. Roderick tried to tell Sleepy that it was his job to help Roderick sleep, but Sleepy asked for a drink of water, then to use the bathroom, then to brush his teeth, and on and on. Until finally, Roderick loses his temper turns his back on Sleepy and just goes to sleep. Could that have been Sleepy’s plan all along?
Told in both prose and dialogue, this picture book has a merry voice. Young readers will recognize their own reluctance for bedtime and may not realize as quickly as adults that Sleepy is up to something. The dialogue between Roderick and Sleepy is fast-paced and full of humor. The book reads aloud well and demands a unique voice for Sleepy in particular.
The art really works well with Sleepy being a beautifully creepy toy or creature. His staring huge eyes, striped legs, and puffy antlers are delightfully confusing. The scenes of the two characters in bed next to each other use particularly effective imagery of wide eyes glowing in the darkness, side-by-side.
A great riff on bedtime struggles. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.