What better time to read about long dark nights than at bedtime? Here are some new and entertaining picture books on the subject. Each book is good for ages four through eight.
Nightsong, by Ari Berk, and richly illustrated with images of the night by Loren Long, is an exhilarating tale of overcoming one’s fears. It’s also on my list for the Caldecott winner which will be announced next Monday. Young Chiro is anxious about flying through the dark and not being able to see. His mother reassures him that “There are other ways to see” and tells him to use his “good” sense. “Sense is the song you sing out into the world, and the song the world sings back to you.” As he explores the world, he sings and the world sings back according to its size and structure. There are so many levels of understanding and beauty emanating throughout this book. The darkened brush-strokes are heightened by the imagery of the text as together they expose Chiro’s novice experience of life.
All the Awake Animals are Almost Asleep, by Crescent Dragonwagon, and painted by one of my favorite illustrators, David McPhail, begins with a mother tucking her young child in bed and attempting to convince him that it’s time to sleep. The story takes on an alphabet tale as the mother convinces her child that animals, beginning with the antelope, need sleep at the end of their day. This beautiful lyrical tale will surely lull the listener off to dreamland!
Bedtime is Canceled, by Cece Meng, and digitally illustrated by Aurtelie Neyret, is a perfect read-aloud as the humor throughout will bring giggles and laughs to all who listen and read along. Two young siblings decide to write a note that says: “Bedtime is canceled.” But, unfortunately, their parents don’t believe them and so they throw it away. But just then a gust of wind takes it out their window, into the streets of town and it finally lands in a pile of paper on a newspaper reporter’s desk. So he puts it in the headline of the paper. Now everyone feels they must obey and everyone gets extremely tired. How this is resolved and what the siblings think of next will keep you smiling all the way to bed.
Pigs in Pajamas, by Maggie Smith, has plenty of punch due to the plentiful paladins of the letter “p” found throughout! In fact, you’ll find where these “p’s” parade at the back of the book. This fun and playful book begins and ends with Penelope Pig’s sleepover party where precocious pigs pander and play. The paintings are of watercolor and collage and mix perfectly with “P’s”.
Sleep Like a Tiger, by Mary Logue, and painted with a combination of mixed media paintings on wood and computer illustrations by Pamela Zagarenski, tells of a young girl who isn’t sleepy and asks her parents, “Does everything in the world go to sleep?” The very patient parents (who seem to be royalty as all 3 are wearing crowns) answer that their dog is “curled up in the hall”, and tiny snails “curl up like a cinnamon roll”, and a tiger “finds some shade, closes his eyes, and sleeps.” The intricate and wondrous detail of each picture, along with the warm, coziness of the text, will have you pouring over this invitation to soothing sleep again and again!
The Sandman, by William Joyce, is a sumptuous, richly illustrated tale about how the moon needed a backup to help him deliver good dreams when the moon wasn’t shining down in fullness. So he engages a young fellow, known as Sandy (or better known as The Sandman). But when Sandy encounters an evil force, dreams get a bit sketchy and he needs to overcome all. The story, along with the vivid, bright colors will entertain all. I only wish Mr. Joyce didn’t feel compelled to have the beautiful mermaids tarnished with tattoos. They are completely un-necessary and may leave opposing impressions.
Little Critter Bedtime Stories, by Mercer Mayer, is a nice packaged box that includes six popular paperback stories as well as a place to carry for your hand. The stories included are “The Lost Dinosaur Bone”, “Just a Little Too Little”, “Bye-Bye, Mom and Dad”, and “The Best Teacher Ever”.
Brave Squish Rabbit, by Katherine Battersby, showcases how friendship can overcome fears. Squish is a very small rabbit who is afraid of many things, including the dark. But when his good friend, Twitch the squirrel, becomes trapped in a dark storm, Squish has to fight through his fears and save his friend. The limited text and full, bright and colorful pages make this an easy and quick bedtime read.
While You Were Sleeping: Fun Facts That Happen At Night, by Steve & Matthew Murrie, and illustrated by Tom Bloom, is filled with amazing facts that will fill the night! There are five sections that all relate to events that happen during the night and they are written with a kid-friendly text with larger font, less words and colorful drawings on practically every page. The sections include “The Human Body”, “Nature” and “Space”. Some of the fun facts are: Did you know that it’s unlikely to cry in your sleep? And the Giant Pacific Octopus spends almost all of its time in the dark. These are just a few of the many interesting facts in the book.