Mary Logue’s Sleep Like a Tiger, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski (2013), and Mem Fox’s classic Time for Bed, illustrated by...

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THE BIG BOOK OF SLUMBER

In the crowded field of won’t-you-please-go-to-sleep books, this visually pleasing but awkwardly rhymed story fails to forge any new paths into dreamland.

The attractive cover of the oversized volume features a starry nighttime scene with a smiling fox asleep under a puffy quilt, establishing a calming tone. The first spread includes a little boy asleep in his bed next to his teddy bear, and from there, a wide variety of animals, including fish and fowl, bed down for the night in outdoor settings with anthropomorphic accessories such as pajamas, beds and cozy quilts. Appealing illustrations in a fanciful, mixed-media style employ collaged elements of paper and fabric against painted backgrounds, with swirling lines and oversized leaves and blossoms setting a surrealistic mood. The environments are scrambled together in a wildly disparate manner that echoes the illogical quality of the dream world, and proportions are often exaggerated so smaller creatures seem huge, like a butterfly as big as a tiger’s head. The rhyming text, translated from the Italian, bounces along in singsong fashion with some awkward scansion and phrasing that often trips into tongue-twister territory. Though the repeated introductory words, “hushaby, lullaby,” establish a serene cadence, many of the rhyming verses trip up rather than soothe.

Mary Logue’s Sleep Like a Tiger, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski (2013), and Mem Fox’s classic Time for Bed, illustrated by Jane Dyer (1993), explore the same territory with greater success. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5439-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun.

CLOTHESLINE CLUES TO JOBS PEOPLE DO

From the Clothesline Clues series

Heling and Hembrook’s clever conceit challenges children to analyze a small town’s clotheslines to guess the job each of their owners does. 

Close-up on the clothesline: “Uniform and cap, / an invite for you. / Big bag of letters. / What job does she do?” A turn of the page reveals a macro view of the home, van and the woman doing her job, “She is a mail carrier.” Indeed, she can be spotted throughout the book delivering invitations to all the rest of the characters, who gather at the end for a “Launch Party.” The verses’ rhymes are spot-on, though the rhythm falters a couple of times. The authors nicely mix up the gender stereotypes often associated with several of these occupations, making the carpenter, firefighter and astronaut women. But while Davies keeps uniforms and props pretty neutral (he even avoids U.S. mail symbols), he keeps to the stereotypes that allow young readers to easily identify occupations—the farmer chews on a stalk of wheat; the beret-wearing artist sports a curly mustache. A subdued palette and plain white backgrounds keep kids’ focus on the clothing clues. Still, there are plenty of details to absorb—the cat with arched back that anticipates a spray of water, the firefighter who “lights” the rocket.

Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58089-251-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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THE GRUFFALO

The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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