Fairy-tale and nursery-rhyme characters help young children go to sleep in this beautiful bedtime book.

In simple rhyming verse Arena bids good night to a host of well-known characters: “Sleep tight, / Snow White. / Seven dwarves / say good night”; “Rest your head, / Little Red. / Forget the Wolf. / It’s time for bed.” Some of the rhymes have a slight tongue-in-cheek bent, as in: “Don’t rough it, / Little Miss Muffet. / Fluff a pillow— / chuck the tuffet!” And one rhyme may raise the eyebrows of feminist readers: “Want a fella, / Cinderella? / Eight hours’ sleep / will make you bella.” In all, 15 different characters make an appearance; most are female except for Prince Charming, Little Boy Blue, who make solo appearances, and Hansel, Jack, and Beast, who appear with Gretel, Jill, and Beauty, respectively. Each character or character duo is given a full two-page spread, illustrated in a gloriously exuberant style with an equally vibrant palette by Alvarez. The characters each sport different hair and skin colors in a range of hues. If little ones are not yet familiar with the fairy tales and nursery rhymes alluded to, use this as an excuse to introduce them to what could be called a cultural common language. Pair this with Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s classic Each Peach Pear Plum (1978) for a multiracial update.

A visual bedtime treat. (Picture book/poetry. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93713-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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A bright grab bag.


Having put her own spin on traditional nursery rhymes in My Very First Mother Goose (1986) and Here Comes Mother Goose (1999), both edited by Iona Opie, Wells now interprets some of Milne’s children’s verse.

Where the original title had 44 poems, some confined to a page and others extending to a handful, with Ernest Shepard’s illustrations acting mostly as decoration, Wells here presents 13, many sprawling over several pages and accompanied by bright, busy illustrations that turn each one into a narrative. When James James Morrison Morrison Weatherby George Dupree’s mother goes “down to the edge of the town” without him in “Disobedience,” she hops into a black London cab driven by a rabbit, stops to make a call from a red phone box, and comes home in a different cab (driven by a cat) with a white terrier puppy for her son. Meanwhile, wee James telephones some nine people, including the royal family, with Wells’ interpolated dialogue presented in speech balloons. There’s so much side business the propulsive silliness of the original rhyme gets lost. Shorter poems, such as “Independence” and “Happiness” (both of which involve independent-thinking cat children), fare better, and sequential illustrations for “The King’s Breakfast” work well to convey the many back-and-forths endured by the Dairymaid. Most humans present White, though there are characters of color (including, a bit oddly, Christopher Robin).

A bright grab bag. (glossary) (Poetry. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-01653-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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This may not encourage sleep, but it probably will prompt more questions about animals after dark.


What do animals do when children are sleeping?

Featuring creatures young children are likely to know, this book has the answers. Each spread’s left-hand page describes the animal’s daytime activities, while the right focuses on nighttime behaviors. Realistic watercolor illustrations highlight the animals and, for the night scenes, incorporate the midnight blue introduced on the endpapers. Golden moonlight encircles sleeping creatures, including a frog, ducks, and horses. Young readers will easily recognize the brilliant fluttering daytime butterflies and see children feeding a pet goldfish or playing with another pet. The three or four couplets on each spread end in rhyme (with a fun bush/shushhh pair) or near rhyme (down/found, sleep/feet, line/eye, safe/late). Given the couplets and rhyme, readers may expect a rhythmic read, but the lack of consistent meter makes smooth reading a challenge. However, unusual nighttime facts are a plus. “With tiny clawed feet, [a butterfly] hangs upside-down, / making it difficult to be found.” Goldfish sleep with their eyes open since they have no eyelids; ducks sometimes sleep in a line, with the first and last guarding the rest; bees’ antennae droop. (Unfortunately, both illustration and text incorrectly imply that bees’ comb is aligned horizontally instead of vertically.) Although the story ends with a bedtime message, most listeners will probably not be sleepy at the end. Recurring child characters present White, with one scene including racially diverse friends.

This may not encourage sleep, but it probably will prompt more questions about animals after dark. (author's note) (Informational picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-58089-521-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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