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POW! A knock-out punch!

Last week’s blog rant post from the Horn Book’s usually level-headed if sleep-deprived executive editor called out picture book reviewers for making ridiculous promises in their reviews of bedtime books. You know, stuff like: “This gentle read-aloud will calm young listeners and lull them to sleep.” Elissa wasn’t having it.

“Do these books’ powers of suggestion make my kids go the eff to sleep? Nope.”

As a fellow mom-in-the-bedtime-trenches, I thought Elissa’s frustrations made complete sense. What I wouldn’t give for some magic bullet/pill/spell to get my kids to go to sleep without having to take part in an effing production. Every. Single. Night. Don’t all parents feel this way?

Apparently not. Horn Book Guide editor Katrina recently showed me a thoughtful and smart rant comment from Nell Beram, a superstar Magazine and Guide reviewer/author/parent about Swedish author Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin’s cottage industry of bedtime tools/books. He wrote the bestselling (and awful) The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep and is back with a companion book, The Little Elephant Who Wants to Fall Asleep.

Nell pans Ehrlin’s newest book, but it’s her appended comment that’s curious to me:

Note: Seriously?…If I’d had more space I would have said that the book’s agenda is not so much getting kids to fall asleep as relieving beleaguered parents of—the horror!—an awake child. There’s truly something addlepated about a parent who is this fixated on his/her child falling asleep. (What’s wrong with kids lying in bed awake for a while, communing with their thoughts?) Also, the “Instructions to the Reader” page makes clear that this book is an attempt not at literature but at coercion. Also, if a book is putting a child right to sleep, it is necessarily a bad book. Finally, I expected better of Sweden. I’m relieved to see from the archives that your reviewer hated the first one as much as I hate this one, including the egregious front and back matter, e.g., “You can…skip passages or pages if you notice that they somehow stimulate your child”—god forbid!

Wait, what now? Are there really parents like this? Or maybe I should ask, are there really children like this? How does this work, this “kids lying in bed awake for a while, communing with their thoughts”?? Nell, WHAT IS YOUR SECRET? Whatever it is, bottle that sh!t and make a fortune.

At least we can cross the aisle and agree on Nell’s suggested subject for this book and its ilk: “Books I Want to Punch in the Face.”

About Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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