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

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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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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Perhaps youngsters who think they are more interested in football than reading will take the message to heart.

THE MAGICIAN'S HAT

New England Patriot and literacy advocate Mitchell proves to have a touch of magic as an author as well as on the field.

It’s Family Fun Day at the library, and families of many sizes, constellations, and skin tones are participating. Amid book scavenger hunts and storytelling, a magician arrives. He is white and lanky, sporting a purple polka-dot vest and a bright yellow ascot. But most importantly, he has a very large, mysterious hat. He tells the children how he came to Family Fun Day when he was younger and read his very first book about magic in the library. Turning the pages and getting lost in the words inspired him to become a magician. He realized that it wasn’t just about spells and potions, but that books themselves are magical. Three children reach into the hat and find books about their future professions—Amy, a white girl, is a dentist; Matt, a bespectacled black boy, is a football player; and Ryan, a white boy, is an astronaut. The magician then turns the hat to readers, asking, “What are your dreams?” Previously self-published, the work gets a new look from Lew-Vriethoff’s bustling library and bright swirls of magic and bookish motivation. As an entry in the books-are-awesome genre, it’s mostly distinguished by the author’s clear belief in his message.

Perhaps youngsters who think they are more interested in football than reading will take the message to heart. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-11454-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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