Can a book about napping be a lively story? Why, yes. Meet Annalise.
Middle-grade novelist Grabenstein, perhaps best known for the Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series, turns to picture books in this story of a spunky toddler who prefers shrieking to napping. Her weary father pushes her through town in a stroller, hoping it will lull her to sleep. The two discover that the townspeople, one by one, are more than happy to “take” Annalise’s nap in her stead. Everyone stops in their tracks to get some shut-eye while Annalise is “the only one in the whole wide sleepy world who would not fall asleep.” When she’s finally ready to, she can’t; “all the naps had already been taken!” Cue more shouting: “I WANT TO TAKE A NAP!” Grabenstein writes chummily, often directly addressing readers (“Do you know anyone like that?”). The book’s display type plays with font size and color to accentuate Annalise’s wails, and Espinosa fills the retro illustrations, reminiscent of mid-20th-century classics, with funny details, including snoozing pigeons, fish, and ducks. Preschoolers will find the defiant protagonist’s protests a little bit thrilling and 100% funny. Delightfully, the front endpapers feature a large, red “WAAAAAH!”; the closing ones, a small, blue “Shhhh” after the girl has finally, mercifully closed her eyes. Annalise and her family have pale skin; Espinosa depicts a diverse group of townspeople who will gladly take her naps for her.
Screamingly fun. (Picture book. 3-8)