Tell Me a Bedtime Story

By Alena Rivers

This week we spotlight two picture books in the Butler Center sure to help slow down busy nights and provide a comforting bedtime story. Both books feature animals and a familiar bedtime experience where children can watch a young bear cub deny sleepiness or speculate about what animals dream.

Goodnight Everyone by Chris Haughton (Candlewick, 2016)

Nighttime approaches in the forest. All of the forest animals are ready for sleep with their eyes drooping or completely closed; all except for a small bear cub whose eyes are wide awake. Little Bear wanders the forest home looking for a playmate asking the sleepy mice, hares and deer if they will play. They each yawn and reply they are too sleepy to play. As the story progresses, Little Bear grows more and more sleepy. Little eyes begin to droop until Great Big Bear carries Little Bear off with a kiss and a snuggle where sleeps finally catches up with the small bear cub.

Characteristic of Haughton’s earlier books, Little Owl Lost and Oh No, George!, one color palette is emphasized in the digitally created images which are saturated in shades of blue, pink and purple. Oranges and greens punctuate some of the images depicting an approaching evening glow as the sun begins to set. The text repeats throughout the book creating a predictable and gentle tone. Preschoolers will enjoy following Little Bear’s quest to find a playmate and will notice how Little Bear’s eyes gradually move from wide open to completely closed, signifying the final surrender to slumber.

When the World Is Dreaming by Rita Gray, illus. by Kenard Pak (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)

What do little woodland creatures like snakes, newts, deer and mice dream? Young readers are asked this question for each woodland animal featured in the story. Amusing images of each animal’s dream follow, from a snake that becomes a flying kite tail to a bunny flying over a tree with wings of cabbage. The final Little Dreamer is a young child in bed dreaming of all the woodland creatures visiting her bedroom while she sleeps and they approach the gifts from nature that she has collected for each them.

Recalling a similar style as Pak’s recent Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn, the images are done in a combination of digital media and watercolor. The color palette features soft pastels and alternates between spreads with plenty of white space and spreads filled with watercolor images. Rhyming text is repeated throughout the story to allow young readers to anticipate upcoming lines. Preschoolers will delight in the gentle rhymes and the whimsical dreams of each woodland creature.