Written and Illustrated by Sandra Boynton
Simon & Schuster, 1982
The sun has set not long ago.
Now everybody goes below.
The plot in a nutshell: A gang of animals on a boat prepare for bed.
Once the sun has set, all the animals go below deck to take a bath. Then they hang up their towels, change into pajamas and brush their teeth. After this, they go back up on deck for a late night exercise session in the moonlight. When they come back down, they’re moving more slowly and all ready for bed. They all climb into their beds, wish each other goodnight and are rocked to sleep by the motion of their boat.
My love for author/illustrator Sandra Boynton is well known and this book was one of the first books we got when my husband and I learned that we were going to be parents. Our original copy was a full size hardcover book, which seems to be pretty difficult to obtain these days, when it is more widely available in its board book version. I also highly recommend the book’s digital app, which we have for our iPad. The app gives you the option to read it yourself or hear it read by the intensely soothing voice of Billy J. Kramer and every page features absurdly delightful interactive elements, such as a boat you can rock by turning your tablet back and forth and a screen that steams up in the bathroom. Seriously, I’ve spent hours playing with this thing.
I find it really funny that there is such a high level of criticism aimed at the fact that the animals get ready for bed and THEN go exercise. I get that this is not the usual order of events, but are these people looking for realism in a book about lions, elephants, hippos and bears getting ready for bed on a boat? This is one of those books that shows up at baby showers all the time and is included in lists of books that parents have memorized and remember for years to come. (I still know it by heart, thirty years after picking it up for our impending baby.) A must have book for bedtime.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that however you prepare for bed is the right way, as long as it ends with you falling asleep.