Even before the title page, the book presents readers with a challenge: “DON’T BLINK!”
The narrator—personified as a bigheaded gray owl—explains the challenge at the very beginning of this picture book: if (child) readers can avoid getting to the end of the book, then they can avoid bedtime. There is, unfortunately, one caveat. Each time readers blink, they have to turn the page. The narrator of this interactive picture book comes up with several plans to help readers avoid blinking and, consequently, turning the page. These suggestions range from parsing optical illusions and dizzying spirals to staring “at the person next to you” and squinting. It is ironic that each new suggestion occurs on a new page, steadily leading readers toward the end of the picture book. In one particularly clever moment, a flurry of blinks takes readers from Page 23 to Page 46 in one turn. As the implied readers get sleepier and sleepier, the owl narrator subtly modifies the narrative by suggesting that readers first try shutting one eye, then both eyes—so long as they don’t fall asleep!—in order to avoid turning the page. Rosenthal and Roberts’ innovative picture book, with its purportedly helpful text and solid images in mostly black, white, and gray, gently prepares young readers to sleep even as it seemingly gives children the option of staying awake.
A light read that will make bedtime playful—and perhaps more alluring—for young readers. (Picture book. 4-7)