Despite his mama’s inviting, warm pouch, Cooper, a young kangaroo, is having trouble falling asleep.
He requests a few lullabies. So his mother does some inventive thinking and comes up with a few variations on themes: There is a nice turn on “Rock-a-Bye Baby,” and another on “The Farmer in the Dell.” “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” gets a modest noodling, and, strangely, perhaps the best is “Jingle Bells”: “Daddy bear, baby bear, / Dancing everywhere / They dance all day / Until it’s night / And then they brush their hair! / Oh, dance all day / Dance all night / Dance until you doze / Daddy and his baby bear / Can dance up on their toes.” As mother starts drifting into her own dreamland, young kangaroo is still firing on at least three cylinders. Finally, he succumbs, and everyone can get some sleep. The text is dear in the extreme but has enough warmth not to be saccharine, but Munsinger’s artwork lifts the work to a higher ground. She can capture a look—on the first page, Cooper looks absolutely blasted, fighting slumber like Wellington fought Napoleon—as surely as George Stubbs caught horses.
As lullabies go, the familiar tunes with the new lyrics may just keep sleepyheads entertained enough for a few go-rounds, and sleep can wait. (Picture book. 4-8)