zzzzzzzzz…a list of five bedtime stories

a bedtime for bear cover image dentonA Bedtime for Bear, by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

Bear and Mouse are back again!

Those of you who know Bear, know that he is rather set in his ways. When it comes to bedtime, Bear has many particular requirements — a glass of water set out just so, a properly fitted nightcap, a fluffed pillow — but most important of all, “Bear needed quiet, absolute quiet at bedtime.

This evening, however, bright-eyed Mouse arrives at Bear’s door, suitcase in hand, ready for a sleep-over. (Groan.)  Mouse is not an especially loud house guest, but even his tiny hums and kerfufflings bother Bear, making it quite impossible to fall asleep. (Double groan!)a bedtime for bear illustration kady macdonald denton

Bear finally succeeds in shushing Mouse, but THEN! he begins hearing …Other Noises!  Gulp!  What’s a Bear to do? And can a Mouse be of any help in a case like this?

This is another winning story from Becker and Denton — funny, charming, and warmhearted.  (You can find two other Bear and Mouse stories on Orange Marmalade here and here.) Becker’s characters steal our hearts — Lumptious, dear, and ever-so-slightly-tetchy Bear; Perky, sociable, tending-to-take-charge Mouse. Opposites in size and personality, but in the end, these two are great friends. Becker employs juicy vocabulary and hilariously decorous phrases to create a marvelous atmosphere.

Denton’s brilliant ability to express Bear’s peevishness and consternation and — could that be all-out trepidation I see?! — as well as the undaunted exuberance and bonhomie of Mouse, comes through with every posture and facial expression.  Fantastic fare for ages 4 and up.

my dad is big and strong but cover image di giacomoMy Dad is Big and Strong But…: A Bedtime Story, by Coralie Saudo, illustrated by Kris DiGiacomo

It’s the same old scene every night: Weary dad; weary son; and one of them doesn’t want to go to bed.

Except this time, it’s the dad who’s protesting.

In this entertaining role-reversal, it’s the big guy in the fedora and tie who fusses my dad is big and strong but illustration kris di giacomoabout bedtime, runs amok until he’s quieted with a story, and begs for more, more, more. It’s the little squirt who has to out-think, out-smart, stand firm, and resist all ploys. Big and strong as his dad is, his bedtime is quite a test of patience for a little boy!

This funny, understated, good-natured tale of the famously-exhausting Bedtime Routine will amuse children ages 5 and up, as well as their parents. I love the kind-but-firm responses of the son to all his father’s shenanigans; the mix of good sense and compassion he shows in handling fears and stubborness. Mixed in with the humor of this topsy-turvy scenario, there’s a happy glimpse of how we all would like to be treated at the end of the day.

Kris Di Giacomo’s mixed media illustrations brilliantly propel the droll tone of the story, as does the childlike lettering of the text and frequent use of the text as part of the art. Minimalist, quavery line drawings, childish scribbles, exaggerated proportions, and eccentric compositions, all sound a quirky, absurd note, and even the sedate browns, blacks, and blue grays of her palette keep the humor nicely unexpected.

First published in France, this was released in the U.S. last year, and it’s a gem.

once upon a time the end asleep in 60 seconds cover image blittOnce upon a time, the End (asleep in 60 seconds), by Geoffrey Kloske, illustrated by Barry Blitt

More humor coming your way.

This scene is familiar: Dog-tired dad. Child resisting sleep. Pleas for “Just one more story.”

Our “noble and tired father” does agree to another and yet another story, but he trims the tales, whittles the words, picks up the pace at a hilarious rate, always charging towards those blissful words “The End.”

The results of his pruning are presented here, with Extremely Abbreviated versions of once upon a time the end illustration barry blittnumerous stories such as “The Two Little Pigs” and a number of cleverly-cropped Mother Goose rhymes as well. Of course, each one winds up with pointed comments about slumber. Some of these snippets are just a couple of lines long by the time Dad is done with his editing.

So funny and clever! This book made me laugh out loud.

Barry Blitt’s ink and watercolor illustrations are likewise lighthearted, silly, energetic glimpses of these fractured tales. His full-page and spot illustrations convey dad’s increasingly frenetic paraphrases until…zonk!

Definitely not the most calming of bedtime stories, but very merry! Children ages 5-7 and up who already know their fairy tales will find this particularly funny.

bedtime bunnies cover image wendy watsonBedtime Bunnies, words and pictures by Wendy Watson

Okay. Enough silliness!  Wendy Watson is here with a charming, cozy, burrowful of bunnies.

There are five bunny brothers and sisters, who’ve just been summoned to their snug home in the tree trunk. They have been out playing in the autumn leaves, but would you look at that! A few snowflakes are drifting down as they head in for their  yummy supper, warm bath, comfy jammies, lovely story, and bedtime bunnies illustration wendy watsonsoft beds.

With just four vibrant verbs per page, we follow these happy bunnies as they scamper home, munch carrots, slurp milk, splutter toothpaste, and so on.  The adorable illustrations tell the rest of the story, including that littlest bunny’s clear delight over the snowfall. He can’t keep his eyes off the flakes swirling down outdoors and feathering the window. 

This is a sweet story! Warm as flannel pajamas, comforting as a mug of cocoa. Watson’s charming, soft illustrations in pencil, watercolors and acrylics are packed with personality and charm. They remind me a bit of Richard Scarry’s work. Snuggle up and share this one with toddlers and up.

goodnight goodnight cover image eve riceGoodnight, Goodnight, written and illustrated by Eve Rice

I’ll end with the most soothing title on the list, and there’s no waiting for night to fall in this story. From the front cover, right through the whole book, darkness and quietness have already settled over the city. 

Goodnight came over the rooftops slowly” and is echoed from one friendly voice to another. Mama whispers goodnight to her baby, the policeman calls a goodnight to the fireman, and one comfy lady sipping tea says goodnight to her sleepy dog. All around the town, goodnight quietly glides. One tiny kitten seems to resist all this goodnighting, but in the end, she too is carted off to bed by Mama Cat.

Rice has handsomely illustrated this classic story in lithographic crayon, black pencil, and pen and ink. The soft, charcoal texture of her quaint buildings and rooftops, goodnight goodnight illust eve rice 001people and animals, beds and armchairs, whispers only a tiny bit louder than the deeper, majestic darkness of the night sky. All is hushed.

The only other color on the pages is the brilliant yellow glow of the full moon, and the same yellow glow peeping at us from various windows and street lamps. A cozy, comforting sight. 

This was a favorite of ours many years ago. It exudes tranquility, community, and a deliciously gentle pace, and besides all that, it is such fun to peek in the lighted windows, stop in homes, amble down the street and see what everyone is up to just before bedtime.

Sadly, it’s out of print, but it’s worth searching out for the youngest lap-sitters on up.