Animals with differing internal rhythms find it challenging to be neighbors in this nocturnal tale.
Duck is full of energy; sitting in his brightly lit, yellow kitchen, he sips coffee while perusing 101 Ways to Stay Awake. Bear, by contrast, stands sleepily at the base of the staircase in his dimly lit living room, stuffed rabbit dangling from one massive paw. Just after Bear climbs the steps and settles in, Duck raps on the door, wide awake. "Wanna play cards?…Watch a movie?…Start a band?…Make smoothies?" To each suggestion, Bear simply says “No.” This pattern plays out three times, each episode ending with one or the other voicing the titular refrain until the beleaguered bear is finally wide awake, and the duck drifts off. The relationship between a lumbering, grumpy character and a frenetic extrovert will be familiar to grown-up fans of cartoons, and Duck’s ludicrous behavior and costumes will no doubt elicit giggles from young listeners. Davies brings an animator’s sensibility to his uncluttered compositions; variation in page color and typeface as well as skillful manipulation of facial features signal emotional states. The texture of the hairy bear and the occasional patterns on the floor and bedspread add interest to the flat backgrounds.
That’s all, though, folks. With its one-joke plot and dramatic potential, it’s better suited to school and library use than repeat readings in a lap at home. (Picture book. 3-6)