Written by Mary Logue, Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012
Awards: Caldecott Honor
Once there was a little girl who didn’t want to go to sleep even though the sun had gone away.
The plot in a nutshell: A girl postpones going to bed by asking about how others sleep.
When she tells her parents she doesn’t want to sleep, they tell her she needs to at least put on her pajamas and brush her teeth. She climbs into bed and asks her parents if everything goes to sleep. Her parents tell her that they do and give examples like their dog and cat, who are asleep in different places in their house. The girl asks about bats, whales, snails and bears and her parents tell her a little about how each of those species sleeps. She tells them that the tiger sleeps whenever he’s not hunting so that he can stay strong. They tell her she can stay awake all night, if she wants. But she mimics all the animals they talked about and falls asleep, like the tiger.
Author Mary Logue has a diverse portfolio of books, including adult novels, young adult novels, poetry collections and non-fiction books, but this is her first (and so far, only) picture book. One thing I liked about this story right away was the way that the girl’s parents worked with her instead of against her to get to the end result. They don’t coerce and argue with her, but they have her go ahead and follow her bedtime routine while she’s stalling and trying to stay awake. And there are great moments when she enjoys the routine, such as when she feels good after washing her face or when she stretches her toes under her covers. Her skills as a poet shine through in many places.
Pamela Zagarenski’s artwork in mixed media paintings and computer illustration are playful and fascinating, with lots to look at and explore. Ms. Zagarenski fills her paintings with images that feel significant, such as the many teapots that are scattered through this book. There are recurring themes of wheels, crowns, and butterflies and the sun shows up in lots of different places as well. The cool thing is that none of it seems out of place or distracting and instead, almost combines a dream world into the real world to create the perfect environment for sleep. It’s really visually beautiful.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that though they may fight it at first, kids will realize that sleep can be pretty awesome.