In this lyrical animal ABC book, a mother tries to tuck her child in for the night by telling him about all the awake animals that are getting sleepy. From antlered Antelope to zzz-ing Zebra, this alphabet of animals becomes an exquisite celebration of language and nature, just right for lulling even the most wide-awake little ones into a cozy, soothing slumber.
The New York Times Book Review
…a familiar tale, but McPhail’s watercolors are luxuriously colorful, like a warm, luminescent blanket at bedtime, and the alliterative text is softly lulling.–Pamela Paul
Publishers Weekly (September 3, 2012)
Parents are wont to point out that just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t mean their offspring should, but Dragonwagon and McPhail provide a persuasive exception. When a small boy resists sleep, his mother points out that “every creature, tame and wild,/ has night and day, has still and leap,/ has wide awake and sound asleep.” While McPhail imagines that some of those weary animals are watching from the doorway and window, Dragonwagon offers an “alphabet of ways to sleep,” smoothly working in some alliteration: “Rabbit relaxes into restful repose, dreaming of ripe red radishes.” With meticulous inking and a palette of watercolors that glows with the soft colors of dusk and twilight, McPhail portrays an animal world where sleep is a welcome visitor and bedding down is an eloquent expression of personality. Each of his animal portraits is a beautiful mix of texture, detail, and mood, whether portraying a yawning, hulking yak or an otter who snoozes while clutching a looping letter “O” like a floatation device. Ages 3–6. Agent: Edite Kroll, Edite Kroll Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Faith Hamlin, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Oct.)
Booklist (November 1, 2012 (Vol. 109, No. 5))
Preschool-Grade 1. This lyrical picture book begins with a bedtime conundrum: how do you sleep when you’re not sleepy? The mother here avoids the traditional route of counting sheep and instead leads her child through an alphabet’s worth of animals who are almost asleep. Each animal is introduced alliteratively: “As the light laps the leaves, Lion lies down, lounging low with Lioness and the little one.” X is tricky, as usual, but since these animals are “expecting an exceptionally excellent night’s rest,” the formula works and the cadence is maintained to the end. Many of the animals will be familiar to children, while some—quetzal, urubu—are more exotic. Children will have fun identifying them—if they are still awake, that is. McPhail’s watercolor-and-ink illustrations are gorgeously serene, and the darkening evening light, depicted in washes of burgundy, gold, and teal, is beautiful. The rhyming text at the end breaks the spell of the A-to-Z lullaby, but by that point the little boy and all the animals are well on their way to a good night’s sleep.
Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2012)
Alliteration and animals add up to a child asleep in this latest offering from picture-book veterans Dragonwagon and McPhail. Opening text introduces a familiar bedtime battle of wills between a child who resists slumber and a mother trying to lull him to sleep. This introductory section adopts a rhythmic, rhyming text that culminates with the mother saying, “The answer, darling little child, / is every creature, tame and wild, / has night and day, has still and leap, / has wide awake and sound asleep.” Ensuing pages go through the alphabet using alliterative language to describe animals going to sleep, from: “Antelope is already asleep, all the way to his antlers” to “and Zebra just Zzzzzzzzzzs.” These entries are rather uneven, and while the mother’s recitation may lull the child in the book to sleep, the impact on children listening to the book may be the opposite if they are interested in tracking the alliteration from page to page. Furthermore, the movement away from, and back into, rhyming verse feels rather forced. McPhail’s watercolor-and-ink illustrations, however, are consistently lovely in evoking diverse, sleepy fauna and simplified landscapes from page to page, with the pleasing inclusion of animals who appear in the alphabet pages in the opening and closing bedroom scenes. A sweet depiction of sleepy animals that will especially please McPhail fans. (Picture book. 2-4)
School Library Journal (October 1, 2012)
PreS-K-In this cozy alphabet/bedtime hybrid, a mother tucks her reluctant child into bed, offering examples of how other animals prepare for sleep to convince her little one to doze. The story begins and ends with the mother speaking in soothing rhyming verse; her alphabetized descriptions of “the awake animals getting sleepy” are non-rhyming but mostly alliterative, e.g., “Cat’s curled up on a crimson couch cushion.” Full-page watercolor and ink illustrations in soft, muted colors depict mildly stylized, drowsy animals (generally one, but sometimes two or three per letter). The large cursive capitals fit well into the overall design of the pages, noticeable but unobtrusive. With dozens, if not hundreds, of other alphabet books out there (including previous alphabet books by Dragonwagon and McPhail), it might be difficult to find room for one more, especially in smaller collections; however, if you are looking for new additions, this one is quietly pleasant.-Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
- ISBN-13: 9780316070454
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: 10/2/2012
- Pages: 40
- Age range: 2 – 5 Years
- Product dimensions: 10.40 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)