WE CAN'T SLEEP by James Stevenson
Kirkus Star


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With a Gramps like Stevenson's spinning the yams, who wouldn't try to wrangle a bedtime story? Here Louie and Mary Ann, though they can't agree on why they can't sleep (""It's too hot and quiet."" ""Too windy and noisy."" ""Too light."" ""Too dark."" ""Too lonely""), end up on Grandpa's lap--to hear about the time he had ""that very same problem . . . many years ago. I was about your age."" At this we see a little boy who needs a stool to reach the bathroom sink, with brown hair instead of Grandpa's sparse gray, but still equipped with the droopy mustache that hell wear throughout the adventure. Like his yarns in It Could Be Worse and That Terrible Halloween Night, this is another flatly, laconically related whopper, in which Grandpa deals handily with ocean waves, sharks, an iceberg, a polar bear, and walruses--only to wind up on an island with smoke and fire and galumphing noises emerging from the jungle. ""'. . . The ground was shaking. Are you two getting sleepy?' asked Grandpa. 'No!' said Louie and Mary Ann. 'What was it?' 'It was a huge dragon, breathing fire. He chased me into the ocean. All I could do was splash water at him.' 'I guess that didn't do any good,' said Louie. 'Yes, it did,' said Grandpa. ""It put his fire out. . . . But then. . . ."" And so he continues, with, more pop-up hazards and twitted expectation, until we see the children (and the dog) contentedly to sleep. A canny storyteller, that Gramps; and Stevenson's characteristic loose, free pictures reinforce the tone and the fun of the tongue-in-cheek, taken-for-granted wonders.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1982
Publisher: Greenwillow