Written by Jory John, Illustrated by Benji Davies
“I’ve never been so tired. I could sleep for weeks. Months, even!”
The plot in a nutshell: Bear is tired, but Duck is not.
While exhausted Bear is heading to bed, wide awake Duck is looking for someone to have fun with. He knocks on Bear’s door, waking him up, and suggests that they hang out. Bear turns down all of his suggestions and Duck leaves. Bear goes back to bed, but then Duck shows up at his window, wanting to borrow ingredients to make cookies. Bear refuses and Duck leaves again, but he comes back and uses his key to let himself in. This time, he wants to show Bear his minor beak injury. Bear roars at him and Duck heads home, where he starts to read a book and falls fast asleep. The picture cuts back to Bear’s house and we can see that he is now wide awake.
This is author Jory John’s first picture book for children, although he’s published a few humorous picture books for adults. I read this one just a day or so after reading Bear is Not Tired, which also featured a bear and duck combination, and it was fun to examine all the ways that these two books were similar and different. (Mostly different.) I’ll call this one the sassy older brother of that book, as everything about it seems a little more amped up. Duck is just not going to let Bear sleep while he wants to do stuff and the tension that comes up between them when Bear finally has to put his paw down is never really resolved. But it’s all played for humor, so it’s not overly heavy.
Benji Davies’ illustrations are all about these two characters. There are minimal backgrounds, extraneous other items here and there (particularly the pink bunny that Bear sleeps with) and the color palette feels limited to just a handful of shades, all of which work really well to focus our attention on the interaction between these two as the night wears on and things come to a boil. Poor Bear manages to look tired even when declaring himself to be wide awake and I know exactly how that feels. I would say that, as a bit of a one note story, it wouldn’t stand up to repeated readings, but I think kids will enjoy the humor and repetition at work here and probably enjoy hearing it over and over. A sequel, called I Love You Already was published in 2015.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that it can be disappointing when your friend doesn’t want to do what you want to do, but a good friend knows when to put their friend’s needs first.