Archive for the ‘Bedtime stories’ Category

Review of The Boy Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed, by Helen Cooper

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

boy_who_wouldnt_go_to_bed_largeThe Boy Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed

by Helen Cooper

Dial Books for Young Readers, New York, 1997. First published in Great Britain in 1996.
Starred Review

I’m posting a review of this Old Favorite in response to Travis Jonker’s critique on his 100 Scope Notes blog of the current best-selling children’s book, The Rabbit who wants to fall asleep.

You see, I believe that if you want mesmerizing and hypnotic in a children’s bedtime book, you actually don’t have to sacrifice lovely pictures and beautiful, lilting language.

When my son was a toddler, my then-husband brought this book home after one of his trips to England. It was the British version, so the title was The Baby Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed, but all else was the same.

My son couldn’t keep his eyes open when we read this book to him. Before long, he wouldn’t let us read it at bedtime, because he knew full well it would make him fall asleep.

The book starts with the boys mother telling him it’s bedtime. But it’s still light, because it’s summer, and the boy doesn’t want to go to bed.

But the boy revved up his car…
vrrrooom-chugga-chug…
then drove away
as fast as he could,
and the mother couldn’t catch him.

The boy drives into a lavish dreamscape in his little red car, with a determined look on his face.

The boy meets many creatures and things on his journey and asks them to play, but everyone is much, much too tired.

The language is rhythmic and mesmerizing — but definitely not in a boring or didactic way.

He hadn’t driven very far at all
before he met a tiger.
“Let’s play at roaring,”
said the boy.

But the tiger was too tired.
Nighttime is for snoring,
not roaring,”
yawned the tiger.
“Come back in the morning.
I’ll play with you then.”

The pictures have the soft golden light of a long summer sunset.

He sees soldiers too tired to parade any longer. I like the train (with the dreamscape quickly getting darker), and all the toys in the train cars have their eyes closed:

He stopped for a moment
as a train rolled by.
“Race you to the station,” called the boy.

But the train was too tired.
“Nighttime is for resting, not racing,” said the train.
“I’m going home to my depot, and so should you.”

Of course, parents do not need instructions to read all this in a sleepy, tired, drowsy, weary voice.

When he meets musicians, they’re too drowsy to play music for dancing. They suggest that the boy give them a ride home, and they’ll play a lullaby instead.

The musicians played
such a sweet tune
that the sun was lulled
to sleep and the
moon came out.

The boy’s car went slower …
and slower …
and slower …

and soon the musicians were sound asleep.

Then the boy’s car stopped….
It had fallen asleep too.

The boy tries to get help from the moon hanging in the sky, but even the moon is too tired!

“It’s bedtime,”
sighed the moon drowsily.
And even the moon closed her eyes and dozed off.

Soon, the boy is the only one awake, and all the world around him is sleeping.

But there was someone else who was not asleep.
Someone who was looking for the boy …

Someone who was ever so sleepy,
but couldn’t go to bed until the boy did.

It was the mother.
And the boy hugged her.

The picture of the mother holding the boy here is suitable for framing.

The mother trundles and bundles the boy back to bed. With a big yawn, he gives in to sleep. And the last words of the book are:

“Good night.”

One fun thing about the book is that the dreamscape of the boy’s adventures matches the toys and furniture you’ll find in his room.

The language is so lovely, the paintings are magnificently soft and warm and beautiful, and the tired, tired creatures and things will get any little one yawning.

So my suggestion? If you want to hypnotize your child at bedtime, do it with delight. Try The Boy Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed. Put some sleepiness in your voice, and I challenge you to stay awake, let alone your little one.

Because, after all, nighttime is for snoring, not roaring; dreaming, not parading; and resting, not racing. Good night!

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/boy_who_wouldnt_go_to_bed.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Naptime with Theo & Beau, by Jessica Shyba

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

naptime_with_theo_and_beau_largeNaptime with Theo & Beau

by Jessica Shyba

Feiwel and Friends, New York, 2015. 36 pages.
Starred Review

Okay, this is the cutest bedtime book ever. I showed it to a usually cynical friend, and even he told me I had just made his day better.

The text is simple:

Beau is sleepy.

Theo is sleepy.

It must be naptime!

The photos accompanying this simple text could not possibly be more adorable. A toddler boy (Beau) and a dog (Theo) got in the habit of napping together. Mom (Jessica Shyba) took their pictures.

The two young creatures are roughly the same size. They sleep cuddled up together. You know how nice it is to watch a child sleep? It turns out it can be even sweeter to see a child sleep cuddling up with a sleeping dog.

Of course the big mystery is: How did Jessica Shyba get such stunning photographs of them without waking them up? (But my kids were little before the age of digital photography — so I suppose that’s the answer. Though the photos do seem awfully well-lit.)

You can see more photos, now with Beau’s little sister, on the author’s Momma’s Gone City blog.

In a book? Well, besides being adorable, looking at these pictures will also make you sleepy, which, it seems to me, is the perfect criteria for a bedtime book.

Sleep tight!

mommasgonecity.com
mackids.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/naptime_with_theo_and_beau.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Writing Reviews, Posting Reviews

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

I have a problem. It’s a good problem. I am way behind on reviews I have written but haven’t posted. Right now there are 97 of them.

Partly, this problem came from the solution to an earlier problem: I was way behind on books I’d read but hadn’t reviewed. I decided to solve that problem by spending 30 minutes per day writing reviews. Some time ago, I’d tried and succeeded — for an entire year — to write 30 minutes a day on my book. For now, I’m putting my book-writing on hold. I went to the William Morris Seminar in January to learn about ALSC’s Book Evaluation Committees. It’s seen as conflict of interest to have a book being published when you are evaluating books for a committee (like the Newbery), so I decided I haven’t gotten published in all this time, why not wait a little longer and see if I can get on a committee first? Surely I can write in the meantime — just not try to find a publisher. Well, I decided that, and then got more and more lazy about my 30 minutes per day goal. When I saw how behind I was on books to be reviewed, I decided to let myself spend that time on review writing. And I’ve caught up!

Or, I’ve sort of caught up. There’s a problem. If I write one review per day but don’t post one review per day, I will never catch up. The fact is, I need to be much, much more choosy about which books I review. Right now I’ve got four books sitting here that I liked very much and want to recommend, but I think I will discipline myself and not review them.

Or, how about this: I’ll give a mini-review here and now, but won’t make a full-on page with links on my main site.

Here are four excellent books. First two picture books.

Rabbit’s Snow Dance, as told by James and Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by Jeff Newman, tells a folk tale about how rabbit got his short tail. The book would make a wonderful read-aloud, with chants like “I will make it snow, AZIKANAPO!” and a longer chant in a circle that begs for the listeners to act out. Rabbit has a nice comeuppance at the end, or, well, comedownance, and that’s how he loses his long tail. Joseph and James Bruchac are storytellers, and this story definitely wants to be told.

Sleep Like a Tiger, by Mary Logue, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, is one I got fresh appreciation for when I heard people talk about it at Capitol Choices. This is a deceptively simple bedtime story. A little girl is not sleepy at bedtime, and her parents tell her she doesn’t have to go to sleep, but she does have to put on her pajamas… and so on. Along the way, they talk about how different animals sleep. The pictures show the animals, like a tiger, in their habitat, while in alternate spreads the little girl settles into her bed with her stuffed animals and toys. In the end, she settles down like the animals do. This is a cozy and lovely bedtime book.

Then, two books of children’s nonfiction, both about birds:

Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird, by Stephanie Spinner, illustrated by Meilo So, is another picture book, but tells a true story. It includes short chapters, but there is no table of contents and this is definitely suitable for younger kids. The story is about an African Grey Parrot and his owner, Irene Pepperberg. She used Alex to show that parrots possess true intelligence. The book talks about Alex’s progress and how he was tested and matched three-year-old children.

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95, by Phillip Hoose, is much longer. It covers science, nature, the environment and what you can do to help. Moonbird tells the story of a rufa red knot banded with the number B95 in the year 1995 who has been spotted since. These birds are some of the greatest distance travelers on earth, and B95 is the oldest known such bird. The book goes into detail about what physiological changes and athletic feats go into his journey. The author interviewed many scientists all interested in helping the red knots and other shorebirds continue to survive.

So there you have it — Four more excellent books. Some day, I will catch up…. Meanwhile, keep reading!

Review of Mitchell’s License, by Hallie Durand and Tony Fucile

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

Mitchell’s License

by Hallie Durand
illustrated by Tony Fucile

Candlewick Press, 2011. 40 pages.
Starred Review

Here is an absolutely perfect choice for Father’s Day for fathers of small children. How I wish the creators had written it about 15 years earlier when my son was small and nuts about anything related to cars. Now I will have to settle for reading it in storytime, but what this book really needs is a father ready to act it out. Big thanks to Twenty By Jenny for bringing this book to my attention.

The book begins telling us about a typical three-year-old, but then a twist is added that creates all the fun:

“Mitchell never ever EVER wanted to go to bed. Until his dad finally said he could drive there.

“Mitchell was three years, nine months, and five days old when he got his license.”

The picture there shows Mitchell proudly holding his “Remote-Control Dad Driver’s License.”

Mitchell drives Dad as so many children do — sitting on his shoulders and steering with the ears. They have a whole lot of fun with it, with Mitchell inspecting the tires, checking the engine, and cleaning the windshield first. There’s a delightful surprise when Mitchell starts out by driving his car right into a wall!

“The next night, Mitchell remembered to stop and look both ways.
He also learned how to beep the horn.
He liked the way it sounded . . . a lot!”

You can probably guess what the picture to go with beeping the horn looks like, but wait until you see the vigor with which Mitchell pounds on his Dad’s nose!

We get to see a few different bedtimes, with Mitchell becoming a skilled driver and adding fun riffs on the theme, like braking to avoid a collision with Mom and adding oil.

But when Mitchell comes up with a scheme to drive the car to the Gas Station (Cookie Jar), his car malfunctions, and drives him to bed.

Part of what makes this book so absolutely brilliant are the illustrations. Tony Fucile is an animator, with credits such as The Lion King and Finding Nemo, and it shows. You almost feel like you’re watching a movie as you flip through the pages, with plenty of emotion showing on the characters’ faces and plenty of motion in the characters’ actions. When I saw the picture of Mitchell’s Dad’s face after he bonked into the wall, I could almost hear a theater full of kids burst out laughing.

This book is perfect in so many ways. The artwork is not gorgeous, elaborate paintings, but it is absolutely perfect for this story. I hope it will get some Caldecott attention. I notice clever details as I read it again — like Mitchell’s pajamas each night having a car theme, and his room decorated with cars. Mom’s walking by with a laptop, and there’s a cordless phone in a docking station. This is a modern home but fully in the wonderful tradition of books-as-games along with the classic Pete’s a Pizza. Makes me wish I had a toddler to share it with, but meanwhile it brings back wonderful memories of my husband playing with our boys.

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/mitchells_license.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Review of A Bedtime for Bear

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

A Bedtime for Bear

by Bonny Becker
illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

Candlewick Press, 2010. 48 pages.
Starred Review
2010 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #3 Picture Books

I fell in love with Bear and Mouse in Bonny Becker and Kady MacDonald Denton’s first book about them, A Visitor for Bear. The book worked beautifully for reading aloud to a group of school aged kids up to 3rd grade at a summer childcare center — and equally well at preschool storytime. It was a whole lot of fun to read, with fun repetition that built suspense as well as a chance for the reader to indulge in drama. And all along, I’ve loved the expressive pictures that tell the story and subtext so brilliantly.

After they make friends in A Visitor for Bear, Mouse shows Bear how nice a birthday can be when you celebrate with a friend in A Birthday for Bear, which is in Easy Reader format. This third installment goes back to the format and almost the formula of the first — resulting in fun repetition that builds suspense, as well as a chance for the reader to indulge in drama.

Now Bear and Mouse are taking their friendship to another level: Bear is having a sleepover. However, everything has to be just so for Bear’s bedtime. Most of all, it had to be quiet — very, very quiet.

I love the way Bear has learned about friendship, but is still the same persnickety Bear underneath. He tries so hard to be polite at the noise Mouse makes at the beginning! You can see clearly on his face how hard this is for him:

Bristle, bristle, bristle. Bear heard a noise. It was Mouse, brushing his teeth.
“‘Ahem!’ Bear cleared his throat in a reminding sort of way.
“‘Most sorry,’ said Mouse.”

You can already guess what will happen, though what gets Mouse going was a surprise to me. I just love Bear’s big blow up, with the words printed huge across the page: “Will this torment never cease!” wailed Bear.

Honestly, it makes me want to run a Read-Aloud Bedtime Stories program just to get to read this book!

But that’s not the end. There’s a nice little twist when all is quiet and Mouse is asleep… but Bear hears something. Turns out it’s nice to have a friend when you hear scary noises at night.

I hope I’ve conveyed how much I love this book, but to truly appreciate its charm, you really need to get a copy and read it yourself — better yet, grab someone to read it aloud to, at bedtime. And like all great bedtime books, it ends with the characters fast asleep – and one of them is snoring.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/bedtime_for_bear.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Review of The Dream Stealer, by Sid Fleischman

Monday, February 1st, 2010

The Dream Stealer

by Sid Fleischman

Pictures by Peter Sis

Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins), 2009. 89 pages.

Here’s a gentle but exciting story about a little girl from Mexico who took on the Dream Stealer.

The Dream Stealer is supposed to only steal bad or frightening dreams, but he started feeling afraid of them himself, so he stole some good dreams, including a dream Susana was dreaming about her best friend who moved away.

Susana wants her dream back, so she figures out a way to trick the Dream Stealer and force him to take her to his castle to find her lost dream and get it back. But there are some frightening dreams stored at the castle.

This book would be nice for a first chapter book to read aloud to children or for a child ready to read chapter books on his own. There are thirteen short chapters with plenty of illustrations. The story is interesting and imaginative, and you’re never too frightened for plucky Susana.

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/dream_stealer.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Review of Knitty Kitty, by David Elliott

Friday, November 27th, 2009

knitty_kittyKnitty Kitty

by David Elliott

illustrated by Christopher Denise

Candlewick Press, 2008. 32 pages.

Okay, I’m a sucker for picture books with knitting in them. This one’s a simple bedtime story book with a cozy theme.

Clickety-click.
Tickety-tick.
Knitty Kitty sits and knits.

Knitty Kitty knits a hat to keep the first kitten cozy, mittens to keep the next kitten toasty, and a scarf to keep the third kitten comfy.

But the kittens decide to use the new things on their snowman, so at bedtime they need something — or someone — else to keep them cozy, comfy, and toasty.

The solution is snuggly and warm with lots of “Night-night”s to send your child off to sleep. It just makes me want to have a sleepered child to snuggle off to bed with this book. The warm and cozy illustrations are just perfect. I hope this book is still around when I have grandkids because this will be a perfect book for the knitting grandma I will be to read!

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/knitty_kitty.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Review of In a Blue Room, by Jim Averbeck

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

in_a_blue_room.jpg

In a Blue Room

by Jim Averbeck

illustrated by Tricia Tusa

Harcourt, Orlando, 2008.  32 pages.

Here’s a sweet bedtime storybook.

In a blue room,

Alice bounces,

wide-awake past bedtime.

“Time for bed,” Mama says,

“and I’ve brought flowers for your room.”

“I can only sleep in a blue room,” says Alice.

“Blue is my favorite.

And those —

aren’t —

blue.”

“Ah. . . but smell,” Mama says.

Mama keeps bringing more lovely things that aren’t blue, but are wonderfully soothing.  Alice keeps protesting, but getting sleepier.

The lovely part is that, when the light goes out and night falls, sure enough, everything in the room is blue.

The story is told in lyrical, soothing language, just right for bedtime.  Good night!

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Find this review on the main site at:

www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/in_a_blue_room.html