Written by Cece Meng, Illustrated by Aurélie Neyret
Clarion Books, 2012
The note read, “BEDTIME IS CANCELED.” Maggie thought of it. Her brother wrote it.
The plot in a nutshell: Two kids manage to cancel bedtime and discover what that really means.
Maggie and her brother try to pass the note off as real, but their parents don’t buy it. They throw the note away but the wind catches it and blows it into a newspaper office, where it becomes the next day’s headline. Now everyone believes it, including the principal. Parents are very upset, especially Maggie’s parents, who suspect their kids may have something to do with it. At the end of the day, the kids don’t stop playing. The TV stays on and no one goes to bed (even though they are tired). The next morning, overtired adults everywhere are making big mistakes, at home and at school. Maggie and her brother write a new note, announcing that bedtime is NOT canceled and Maggie delivers it to the newspaper reporter herself. Parents celebrate the good news and that night, everyone goes to bed.
Author Cece Meng takes an idea that is a big time wish of most kids and gives it a comical twist, showing all the ways that staying up all night has its down sides, too. The story also explores the way that an idea can go viral and spread quickly once it’s out of your hands. The message here is mistakenly printed as a newspaper headline, but then is shown being transmitted via smart phone, tablet, computer and television. I think it’s a good idea to introduce this concept to kids early, because the spread of information and misinformation can be such a serious issue.
The digital artwork, from Aurélie Neyret, almost makes you feel that you are watching an animated movie. The pictures capture the characters in action, sometimes with facial expressions that seem to have caught them in the middle of a word. Of course, it adds to the story’s humor to show all the adults making silly errors, such as buttering the dog’s tail or putting their clothes on backwards. And the final picture adds a visual punch line of the two siblings (why do we never get to learn Maggie’s brother’s name?) coming up with a new decree, this time disallowing the cleaning of bedrooms. It’s a pretty funny story that your strongest bedtime fighters are sure to enjoy.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that sleep does stop you from doing fun things, but it’s important to keep you healthy and clear-headed enough to enjoy those fun things.