Like many children, Gabby Wild has absolutely had enough of the tedious rituals of bedtime. Gabby asks her grandmother to take her to Never Sleeping City, and without a word of protest, inquiry, or declaration, Granny agrees.
In this imagined place, there are no lullabies, no sheep to count, and the No Sleeping Inn, where “our lights are always on.” Granny and Gabby head to the carnival, and as they ride on a coffee-mug Ferris wheel, it begins to happen…Granny starts to yawn. Gabby soon learns that once a yawn starts, there’s little to prevent it, and before they know it, Granny’s yawn is swirling all over the city, affecting all who come in its path. To her horror, the brown-skinned protagonist with thick free-form locs has only one place left to turn: “YOU.” In an interactive twist, Gabby asks readers not to fall asleep—after all, “This is NOT a bedtime story!” But it’s far too late; the yawn has proven itself effective not only on readers, but on the protagonist as well. Though the story is set at night, the Sendak-ian artwork remains bright with pops of color that give a buoyancy to the city and its memorable inhabitants, who are both human and animal. In one scene a gorilla and a black man walk side by side holding ice cream cones, an image that may lift some eyebrows.
The lively portrayal more than makes up for the most extended yawn depicted in a picture book. (Picture book. 5-8)