Cricket Song, written and illustrated by Anne Hunter published in 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Layer upon layer of loveliness are sandwiched between the covers of this gentle book. The lovely softness of an evening breeze. The velvet stillness of a yard so quiet you hear the chirruping crickets and the gravelly croaking of the frogs. The fluid blending of hill and valley. The comforting rhythms of continuity.
As one boy drifts to sleep in one home, with the nearby ocean washing up against the coast, on another shore half-a-world away, the same ocean laps the sands, while evening falls on another child in another home. So far off, yet curiously bound together in the same world. We are witnesses of this grand pageant with our birds-eye view of two different corners of the globe.
Elegant. Quiet. Intriguing. Anne Hunter’s images and text will mesmerize and plant sweet seeds of thought to mull while falling asleep. Really beautiful, for ages 2 and up.
Rock-A-Bye Romp, by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Simona Mulazzani published in 2016 by Nancy Paulsen Books
For anyone who’s wondered about the baby rocking in the treetops, crashing to the ground when the bough breaks — here’s a new take on that startling episode!
Linda Ashman’s cheery, rhyming text narrates an elaborate chain of events in which a slumbering babe moves along rather like a baton, tumbling from one landing perch and one animal-caretaker to the next.
By piggyback, boat, and flying hawk! Flopping and flying and cascading! What a wild ride for a little one, before he finally arrives in a safe and snuggly bed.
It’s a journey guaranteed to delight, with enchanting paintings in a palette of jades and twilight-purples, for ages Under-Two and up.
Sheep Go to Sleep, by Nancy Shaw, illustrated by Margot Apple published in 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
We loved reading the adventures of these endearing sheep decades ago when my kids were small, and now, look! — here is a new episode! What a treat!
This time the sheep are trying to settle down for a good night of sleep, but of course — they just can’t get comfy. They hear strange noises. They are thirsty. They are restless. They need their special loveys. Does any of this sound familiar?
Thankfully, a trusty collie dog is attending to these dear muttonheads, and as you know, collie dogs are most dependable. This one is uber-patient, snuggly, and lovable, too! If you’ve never met these sheep, look up all the other books in this series by Nancy Shaw and Margo Apple. Fantastic stuff. Under-Two and up.
The Big Book of Slumber, by Giovanna Zoboli, illustrated by Simona Mulazzani, translated by Antony Shugaar originally published in Italy in 2013; English publication in 2014 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
You might have noticed that this is the second book in today’s post illustrated by the splendid Italian artist, Simona Mulazzani. Her illustrations are so, so charming.
In fact, she’s the reason I grabbed this title in the first place — because when I see her name, I scarf up the book. And you should, too.
Zoboli’s rhyming text takes us on a tour of the animal kingdom, all tuckered out and snoozing in their beds. Snuggly bears and lines of kid goats tucked under sweet little blankets. A tiny mouse curled up in a tiny bed and an even tinier butterfly ready to doze in an even tinier bed. Snakes and cats and puppies and fish. Spiders and tigers and camels and bunnies.
There are oh-so-many drowsy folk here, all looking mighty comfy in their cozy spaces. A soporofic confection for ages Under-Two and up.
Hushabye, written and illustrated by John Burningham published in 2000 by Alfred A. Knopf
Finally, from one of the masters of children’s lit, this catalog of sleepy friends.
First we are introduced to a number of weary ones as they stumble towards bed, rubbing their tired eyes. A mama cat and her kittens. A trio of tired bears. A plum-tuckered baby. Even the man in the moon. Then we make the rounds again, finding out just where each one has settled to sleep.
Burningham’s brilliant, bold compositions and colors, his immensely endearing line, his fribbly little figures, have captivated young readers for decades. If you’re in the U.S., and you’re part of the new generation of moms, you might not run into his books so often, but that is a huge loss! Track them down in your libraries and used bookshops. This one is made-to-order for ages Under-Two and up.