plump that pillow! it’s time for bed!…five nighty-night books

It is Not Time for Sleeping: (A Bedtime Story), written by Lisa Graff, illustrated by Lauren Castillo
published in 2016 by Clarion Books

This darling gem is warm as a mug of cocoa, comfy as a pair of jammies, twinkling with good humor, and spot-on in its grasp of the ol’ bedtime routine!

Supper’s finished, the sky is darkening, bathtime has wrinkled this little fellow’s toes. Mom and Dad slyly suggest he is looking …perhaps…a bit drowsy? But no.  It is not time yet for sleeping, he replies.

There is an order to this business! No hurrying. No skipping steps. Every parent knows this, and the kids are definitely in on the secret, too! Move through the bedtime routine with this charming family until finally..finally… it is time for sleeping! Lauren Castillo’s illustration work is perfection here. Picture book perfection for ages 2 and up.

The Blue Hour, written and illustrated by Isabelle Simler
first published in France in 2015; first U.S. edition in 2017 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

This has to be the most stunning nighttime book I’ve seen. Every page is fit to be framed as a print for your walls.

The show starts on the endpapers with their catalogue of blues, from the palest porcelain through cyan and peacock and on to the darkest blues of all — Sèvres, navy, and midnight. The artistry and intrigue of this monochromatic display prepares us for Simler’s focus on the deepening blues of approaching night as found in nature all round the world.

Spectacular portraits of blue creatures — gorgeous birds, shimmering fish, eerie sea creatures — as well as flowers, blue milk mushrooms, and the blue shadows playing upon hillsides and fields of snow, make every turn of the page a jawdropping wave of beauty.

Brief, lyrical descriptions of each living thing contribute to the hushed effect of the entire piece. Simler gradually deepens and darkens her blues until we’re wrapped in a breathtaking starlit night. 

Endpapers at the close of the book show where in the world each of these creatures is located. A visual masterpiece for anyone from 2 to 100. Don’t miss it.

Beep Beep Beep: Time for Sleep!, written by Claire Freedman, illustrated by Richard Smythe
first published in the UK in 2016; American edition 2016 by Aladdin

Are there any kids out there who aren’t enamored with heavy machinery?! This bold, bright tale will snag ’em all without a doubt.

Uff da! Those backhoes and cement mixers, graders and cranes have been working mighty hard all day on the road! Time for them to put their drills to rest and “take the exit ramp off to bed.”

From the zooming, daylit beginning, Freedman and Smythe gradually turn off the motors, tidy things up, dim the sky, haul out the moon, and leave us in sweet dream land. I’m confident that this is a read-it-again-and-again book for kids 18 months and up.

Noisy Night, written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Brian Biggs
published in 2017 by Roaring Brook Press

Just look at that high rise apartment, every colorful floor full of busy people. How is anyone going to get any sleep?

The little guy on the bottom floor awakens to a “la la la” above his head. What can it be? And the dashing gentleman on the next floor up? He’s disturbed by a “ma ma ma” sound over his head! What in the world is it?

Climb up, page by page, and discover all the goings-on in this boisterous building! Plus find out if this garrulous group ever does get some shut-eye! Brian Biggs’ bold, stylized illustrations are the cat’s meow here. Great fun for ages 2 and up.

Mother Goose’s Pajama Party, written by Danna Smith, illustrated by Virginia Allyn
published in 2015 by Doubleday Books for Young Readers

Mother Goose is throwing a storytime pajama party at her place! And you’re invited!

Over hill and dale her flock of favorites spread the word. The cow jumping over the moon tells the dish who tells the spoon. Children will be delighted to spot characters they know well: blind mice, gingerbread boys, girls eating curds and whey, and many more as they hotfoot it to Mother Goose’s cottage.

Vivid, candy-colored illustrations are sure to scoop in young listeners. The last pages of the book are devoted to the rhymes which feature these characters, just in case you forget who Jack, Mary, or Bo Peep are. Jolly and sweet for ages 2 and up.

Pleasant dreams!