Know a youngster who doesn’t want to go to bed at a reasonable hour? Maybe the little procrastinator just needs the right bedtime read to make those eyelids close. Some perfect picture books guaranteed to cause slumber are out just in time for summer and those long daylight-filled evenings.
“Don’t Blink” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and David Roberts features an owl on the cover with HUGE unblinking eyes. On the first page, the rules of the book are explained.
“If you can avoid getting to the end of this book, you can avoid bedtime, simple as that. (It’s a pretty sweet deal, actually.)
There is a caveat, though. Each time the child blinks, you have to turn a page. So the narrator, the owl with the huge eyes, advises, “So whatever you do, DO NOT BLINK!”
What follows is the owl cleverly warning the reader to not blink, giving advice to help, showing optical illusions, and giving more suggestions. Finally, at the end of the story, there’s a great suggestion on how not to blink — and it’s guaranteed (almost) to make any child fall fast asleep. (Random House)
“Night Out” by Daniel Miyares is a picture book that is heavy on the illustrations and light on text. It works quite well because of the beauty and evocative nature of the illustrations — because the story takes place at night, there is plenty of dark, but that makes the light especially important in the illustrations. A certain boy lives in a home with many other boys but seems apart, alone, except for the turtle floating in a bowl sitting on the chair by his bed. They are all asleep except for the unnamed boy. The next page shows an envelope with the text, “An invitation?”
It all leads to a wild adventure with a huge turtle (who happens to look just like the pet turtle) and a bear, a hare, an owl and a goose. They have tea and dance, and he rides home over the water to his bicycle and back to the home where he relates his amazing adventure to the other boys. Instead of eating alone, the final illustration is of the boy sitting amidst the others with a smile on his face. Miyares gives clues about whether or not the adventure is a dream, and astute young readers might just spot them and claim that it is all a dream. A great question for young listeners is what happened to change the relationship between the boy and the others? And when did it change? (Schwartz & Wade Books)
“Good Night, Forest” by Denise Brennan-Nelson and illustrated by Marco Bucci is a picture book for young readers about the forest and the animals who enjoy the day but sleep at night. The rhyme and text are very simple, and the illustrations have a dream-like quality to them. They are lush and filled with colors and shapes and animals with big eyes. Kids will enjoy this as a bedtime read. (Sleeping Bear Press)
“Fred and the Bedtime Elephants” by Caroline Crowe and illustrated by Claudia Ranucci is the perfect bedtime story about Fred, who can’t seem to fall asleep. When his mother recommends counting sheep, Fred decides that sheep are boring, and he’d rather count elephants. But while elephants may not be as boring as sheep, neither are they as complacent as sheep. Fred’s elephants run around the house making a mess and stirring up a ruckus. At the end, after finally tricking the elephants into leaving his house, Fred decides that counting sheep might just be a better way to fall asleep after all. (Albert Whitman & Company)
And along the same counting sheep line, “Sheep 101” by Richard T. Morris and illustrated by LeUyen Pham is a clever picture book about falling asleep. The front endpaper shows an illustration of a young child in bed, and it’s filled with clues that foreshadow the rest of the story. There’s a sheep stuffed animal, a clock in the shape of a sheep, a Mother Goose book, a Lego helicopter and a Humpty Dumpty lamp. The next page, the title page, shows sheep number 99 jumping the fence while sheep number 100 follows. But as sheep number 101 approaches the fence, looking suspiciously like the stuffed sheep on the child’s bed, the trouble begins. He gets stuck on the fence. When the next sheep asks what is wrong, and the narrator tells the sheep they aren’t supposed to be talking, a series of conversations between the narrator and the animals (who aren’t all sheep) begins. The cow who was supposed to be jumping over the moon is there, as is the piggy who can’t find his way home. Then the blind mouse stumbles across the scene. There is even an appearance by the Lego helicopter. But all’s well that ends well, and in the end, on the back endpaper, the final, sleepy scene is just right. (Little, Brown and Company)
Please note: These reviews are based on final and advance copy books provided by the publishers for review purposes.