Review of Bedtime for Sweet Creatures

Bedtime for Sweet Creatures
by Nikki Grimes; illus. by Elizabeth Zunon
Preschool    Sourcebooks Jabberwocky    32 pp.    g
1/20    978-1-4926-3832-2    $17.99

Grimes puts an animal-centric spin on a youngster’s innovations for bedtime stalling. This lushly illustrated story, on double-page spreads full of bold, saturated color, opens with an African American child’s firm attestation: “No! No! No!” It’s bedtime, and this young person wants no part of it. The narrator, the child’s mother, speaks in an immediate second-person voice. “In the forest of your room, you cling to Bear. I turn back the sheets, and you GROWL. ‘In you both go,’ I say.” In response to each of Mommy’s directives, the child’s defiance conjures a colorful creature, adorned with geometric patterns. In most cases, the imagined animal is larger than the protagonist, emphasizing just how strong bedtime resistance can be. The child freezes in place like Fawn, hangs onto Mommy’s neck like Koala, crouches and pounces like Tiger, and hops like Antelope, all of which contribute to the difficulties of winding down for sleep. Zunon mixes realistic portrayals of the human characters with more stylized depictions of the animals, to highlight the role the child’s imagination is playing. The gender-unspecified protagonist, wearing a footed red onesie with a back flap, helps all young listeners see themselves in these scenarios. A clever bedtime tale for stubborn, active, twenty-first-century kids.

From the January/February 2020 Horn Book Magazine.

Dr. Michelle H. Martin
Dr. Michelle H. Martin
Dr. Michelle H. Martin is the Beverly Cleary Professor for Children & Youth Services in the Information School at the University of Washington in Seattle.

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