Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Now it's time to say good night...

I love "go to sleep" books. To this day, I can recite Goodnight Moon from memory because it was such a favorite with my entlings before bedtime. It is still my gift of choice as a baby shower gift.

Am I right in my feeling that children's bedtime rituals are being left behind these days? I hope not but frequently, in schools, I meet kids who live almost separate from their families. Each child has a cell phone for individual communication/texting and a computer and television in their bedroom. On different schedules, families often do not even eat dinner together, much less, share bedtime stories and tuck-ins.

I hope this is not indicative of a wider trend because there is something so important and cozy and meaningful about seeing a child safely off to dream land.

In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck, illustrated by Tricia Tusa, Harcourt 2008

A mother patiently and tenderly sees her little one off to sleep with fragrant flowers on the nightstand, a cozy quilt , and wind chimes. The little girl only likes the color blue and protests at each offering of tea, the quilts, flowers because they are not blue. When the mother turns off the light though, the moon fills the room with a beautiful blue light that Tricia Tusa renders in a soft blue wash.

Averbeck's text rocks as gently as a lullaby as Tusa's scenes grow quieter and quieter.
What a treasure.

Jim Averbeck website

Wynken, Blynken and Nod by Eugene W. Field, illustrated by Giselle Potter, Schwartz Wade Books 2008

I hear my mother's voice when ever I read this poem as it was in my childhood copy of The Bumper Book: A Collection of Stories and Verses for Children. Illustrated by Eulalie (Platt & Munk, 1946.) that she read to us when we were small. The imagery of the wooden shoe remains a vivid childhood memory. Giselle Potter illustrates this classic of childhood using the lines of the poem as part of the action as the young fishermen toss their nets "in the twinkling foam."

Potter includes a note about Eugene W. Field and the history of the poem at the end of the book.

Be sure to read the Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast interview with Potter here.
Giselle Potter website

The Sandman by Ralph Fletcher, illustrated by Richard Cowdrey, Henry Holt 2008

A tiny little man named Tor cannot sleep. One day he finds a dragon scale. As he files down the scale's sharp edge, a breeze blows the scale dust into his eyes which results in "a great wave of sleepiness." When he awakens, he determines that the dragon scale sand can be used to help wide awake children fall asleep. Alas, he needs a supply of them to stay in business so he must go to the dragon's lair to get them.

Richard Cowdrey's illustrations called to me the moment I saw the cover. Tor's tiny home furnishings include a thread spool end table, pencil stub window frames, a thimble cup and a soup ladle bathtub. Cowdry was inspired by Tolkien's Smaug for his double page dragon illustration. Dragon lovers will rejoice at his rendering. The dragon scale sand gleams like emeralds and Tor's mouse-drawn cart is just too adorable. There is warmth and a bow to tradition in Cowdrey's artwork. He is the talent that paints the Guardians of Ga'hoole covers.

The Sandman, (like Jack Frost--see The Stanger by Chris Van Allsburg) does not have many stories told about him. In fact, I cannot think of one. This is a nice addition to bedtime canon.

Ralph Fletcher website
Richard Cowdrey website


Anonymous said...

My boys are still young, so we have family supper together, and a reading routine before bed. Goodnight Moon has been a favorite of both, along with Boynton's Going to Bed Book, and others.

The New Yorker had a column a while back about the transition of kids books from adult centered (the old lady telling the kid hush, and s/he finally falls asleep, after all that time shown by the clock) and Bedtime for Francis (dad threatening Francis with spanking) to child-in-charge, like Olivia and Goodnight Gorilla.

Berkely Breathed's Goodnight Opus is a clever riff on Goodnight Moon.

BookMoot said...

What a great list of "good night" books. Thank you so much. That sounds like a great article.

lillibet said...

The favorite at our house (and my perennial shower gift) is Mem Fox's Time for Bed. The illustrations are fantastic and it's great for every age...Keep the faith...we still read as a family.