Every Color of Light by Hiroshi Osada, illustrated by Ryoji Arai, translated by David Boyd (9781592702916)
This picture book explores how weather impacts the sky and its light. Starting with just a pitter patter of rain, the rain steadily grows heavier and louder. Soon the lightning cracks across the sky and thunder booms. Colors swirl in the storm as the wind rises. Just as suddenly, the rain stops and light returns to the sky. Raindrops form crystals in the sunlight. Evening comes, spreading colors across the sky. The white moon rises in the darkening sky. Stars sparkle above, the moon reflected in a pool as everyone falls asleep.
The text in this Japanese import is marvelously poetic. It speaks to the impact of a storm on the sky and on the light you see. The drama of the storm is captured in both the text and the illustrations, just as the returning calm is. Both are celebrated in the book, something quite unusual as the quiet is allowed to be truly focused on.
The illustrations are what sets this picture book apart. Illustrated with glorious paintings that show nature and the changing light, the book shimmers and shines. The changing light sweeps on the pages bringing sun shafts, pink lightning strikes, dark night, and a bright moon.
Unusual and intensely beautiful, this picture book beckons you outside to linger for awhile. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Enchanted Lion Books.
Goodnight, Veggies by Diana Murray and Zachariah OHora (9781328866837)
At sunset the garden needs its rest, but the vegetables are tossing and turning. Turnips are “tucked in tightly” while potatoes are closing their eyes. Tomatoes are humming lullabies and cauliflowers cuddle by droopy pea pods. The baby lettuce and baby carrots are snuggling while rhubarb reads stories to the broccoli. Soon the other vegetables are calm as the cucumbers. As the moon gets bright all of them are sleeping, tired from growing all day and all night.
Written in a musical rhyme, this picture book is ideal for reading aloud to toddlers and preschoolers. It takes a spring theme of gardening and turns it into a bedtime book that will make everyone tired, since little children are growing day and night too. Throughout the book, humor cleverly used alongside alliteration, making the book a treat for adults as well.
The art by OHora is marvelous. Readers can follow a worm through the garden as he tunnels past the tired veggies and finally falls asleep himself. The images move from showing root vegetables to garden beds from above, creating a winding path through this abundant garden.
Clever and seasonal, this spring bedtime book is one worth picking. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
I Can Be Anything by Shinsuke Yoshitake (9781452180380)
At bedtime, a little girl insists that her mother play a guessing game with her. She pretends to be something and her mother must guess what she is. Her mother is reluctant and it’s clear that the little girl has gotten grumpy playing this game in the past. Readers will soon realize that this is a much more difficult game than they might have thought! The mother makes logical guesses but each time is wrong as the little girl pretends to be everything from an omelette to Mount Fuji. By the end of the game, the little girl is very tired and finally falls asleep in the middle of acting something out. Readers and the mother wonder what that might have been.
Yoshitake takes a classic moment in childhood and makes it priceless. She captures both the tired mother and the dynamic child deftly in this clever picture book. The mother getting everything wrong is pitch perfect as is the little girl’s building frustration with the situation. The relationship between them is quietly loving and filled with acceptance. The art in the book is simple and effective, showing the little girl’s version of the object and then an image of the actual thing.
Just right for all children trying to avoid bedtime. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy provided by Chronicle Books.
The Yawns Are Coming! by Christopher Eliopoulos (9781984816306)
A sleepover is great fun as long as you can avoid the yawns! This is the story of two children and their sleepover where they planned to stay up all night long. They even had a long list of things to do like playing hide-and-seek, board games, soccer, and trampolining. The yawns started to appear while they were playing cards together. Soon there were hundreds of them. The kids ran, climbed and hid from them, but it was no use. Soon they were yawning and then suddenly a Doze landed on their heads, Snores came, and finally a Sleepie covered them up! Next thing, it was morning, but there was still fun to be had.
Eliopoulos’ picture book has a great look and feel that is made all the more fun by the humor of the story. Using cute monsters as the yawns, snores, dozes and sleepies was a great idea, especially when they appear in droves or drop from the sky. The book captures the great plans made before every sleepover and how they never quite manage to be achieved.
In the illustrations, it’s great to see a picture book that features diverse characters who are close friends. I also appreciate that the narrator and their friend “Noodles” are not given genders in the book and could be whatever the reader chooses. The use of hooded pajamas and then daytime hats to keep them clearly identified but also gender neutral is a great touch.
A funny and marvelous bedtime (or staying up late) book. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from ARC provided by Dial.
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.