In this debut picture book, making a boy responsible for someone else’s sleep encourages him to respect bedtime.
Dark-haired Ben and his only slightly smaller, prehensile-tailed monkey, Bungee, are best friends. “They liked to do everything together,” including draw pictures, build block towers, and eat pancakes (debut illustrator Neptune shows their differences in taste as Bungee scarfs down his banana-laden breakfast and Ben carefully measures fruit and syrup atop his stack). But what the two love best of all is bouncing. Ben feels tired after a long day of bouncing, but Bungee is still full of energy. When the monkey won’t let Ben get a good night’s sleep, the boy wakes up feeling miserable. The two friends become increasingly irritable and get into more and more arguments. Ben thinks of ways to keep Bungee from bouncing at night and finally creates rules they both must follow. That night, when Bungee tries to bounce again, Ben reminds him of the regulations and takes him back to his own bed—but the monkey keeps trying. It’s an arduous process, but finally, Bungee and Ben get enough worthwhile sleep that they can happily bounce together again. Neptune’s evocative, child-friendly images are filled to the brim with emotion, whether it’s elated bouncing or passionate arguing. Her added details to the story flesh out the spare text and provide plenty of extra laughs for young readers. Family sleep expert Carr (Make Life Better for Seniors, 2013) keeps the words simple and uses bubbles to have the characters convey more difficult ideas. She has deftly mastered the vocabulary and pacing needed for this reading level. In the book design, the larger text size for certain words (“BUNGEE!” “COWABUNGA!”) delightfully emphasizes them in a play for both humor and effect. While this strategy may not work for every kid, the rules Ben devises should be useful for parents of stay-awake children, who can pretend that one of their stuffed animals is a Bungee-like companion.
While many children and lap readers will enjoy seeing a monkey learn the value of rest, this amusing tale of tired friends should aid parents in discussing the importance of sleep.