An energetic, insomniac romp of an anti-bedtime book.
A wakeful child narrator recounts the goings-on in a large, multiracial family’s zany household long after everyone should be asleep. Rhyming verse with a singsong cadence details activities ranging from the mundane (“Grandma’s at her needlework. / Dad is baking bread. / My brother’s making laundry lists / of every book he’s read”) to the bizarre (“Now Mom just took an audience / with Queen Sigrid the Third. / My brother has just taught the cat a dozen dirty words”). It’s a rollicking read-aloud, but inconsistent line breaks may cause some to slip up upon first reading. Pop-culture references pep things up and range from the stodgy (Sinatra, “Clementine”) to the very contemporary (poke tattoos, the film Condorman), though the conceit drags on a bit too long. Throughout, Harris’ illustrations have a retro feel that evokes, at turns, Tomie Ungerer and Maira Kalman, and they expand on the details of the text to ratchet up the humor and drama—building on the mention of a lake to depict the setting not as a mere house but an elaborate lighthouse. The conclusion shows the narrator descending the stairs to find everyone asleep at daybreak, a predictable, yet satisfying, end.
Don’t sleep on this one. (Picture book. 3-7)