Better bedtime books abound



A bedtime book set to music.

Laiz and Vernon’s text, set to music composed by Vernon and presented on an accompanying CD, loses some of its lullaby flavor without the audio addition. This occurs due to design choices that break the text up awkwardly, interrupting cadence and shifting rhyme schemes. Meanwhile, illustrations alternate between interior scenes of a white, human family settling in for the night and outdoor scenes of various animals going to sleep. Curiously, even nocturnal or crepuscular animals such as raccoons, owls, bats, and red foxes are depicted hunkering down—almost always with smiles on their faces. The rather stiff illustrations also add many animals unmentioned by the text, including a panda and a giraffe on the cover that feel very out of place in the book’s apparent North American woodland setting. The cover art also tucks those animals and others under the titular blanket of stars, but inside the book this blanket belongs to a child and animals aren’t anthropomorphized to such a degree. The result seems like a mismatch between design and interior art. Perhaps a bigger misstep is the decision to include bedtime poems by Robert Louis Stevenson, Christina Rossetti, Thomas Dekker, and then another by Vernon as backmatter. The first three underscore the failings of the main text, while the inclusion of the last seems indulgent, at best.

Better bedtime books abound . (Picture book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-981-4910-7-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Crow Flies Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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A fun but inessential novelty, as much toy as book.


A familiar song repackaged as a board book doubles as a finger puppet.

Many a caregiver has sung this refrain to a newborn or toddler, ignoring the decidedly sad lyrics of the original. Magsamen lays claim and sweetens it up. She uses only the chorus and changes the last line to “I’ll give you lots of hugs… / and kisses every day” instead of the expected “Please don’t take my sunshine away.” Her cheery artwork, reminiscent of applique, recalls the song’s country-music roots and is anything but sad. The pages are decorated with hearts and cuddly-looking caregiver-child animal pairs—foxes, skunks with sunny yellow umbrellas, bunnies, raccoons, and squirrels. The thick, heart-shaped pages include a circular die-cut hole through which readers might poke the smiling felt sun puppet attached to the back cover. A finger inserted from the back makes the sun wiggle and will capture even the youngest baby’s attention. The puppet feature does not obstruct the initial page turns, but when a toddler says, “Do it again” (as they doubtless will), quickly re-positioning the finger puppet is somewhat challenging.

A fun but inessential novelty, as much toy as book. (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-30576-0

Page Count: 6

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Sure to prompt little fingers into joyful action.


A favorite baby-and-toddler activity receives an upbeat celebration that will get those fingers going. Watch out!

The gang of frazzled felines that populate this outing are truly the cat's meow. Based on Boynton's song of the same title, the text is reproduced in a colored, patterned font that amps the energy right up. A forlorn little kitty, paws clasped in front of his body, appears anxious (though slightly intrigued) when a trio of toms encourages him to join in the fun. “Gitchy-gitchy / Goo Gotta / Ready, Set, Go!” It doesn't take long before the cautious cat jumps in on this chorus line with dramatic leaps and fluttering fingers. A little birdie acts as a square-dance caller, enunciating each beat (“Goo bop. / Gitchy-goo bop”). The shaggy, large-nosed felines are tremendously expressive in their synchronized movements and maintain a rollicking pace. “We can tickle high. / We can tickle low. / We can tickle QUICKQUICKQUICK / as fast as we can go!” (Here, the page is filled with iterations of "gitchy gitchy gitchy" in different colors.) At the end, the gang sprawls on the floor, exhausted, after a truly monumental tickle-fest.

Sure to prompt little fingers into joyful action. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: March 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7611-6883-6

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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