Winter Lullaby (Dianne White)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Winter Lullaby, written by Dianne White and illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki, a sweet tale of a bear family and the approach of winter.

The autumn in coming to a close and the air is crisp and cold, so Mama Bear calls for her little one to prepare for sleep. Seeing other animals like mouse, raccoon, skunk, and others scurrying about on the fallen snow, Small Bear asks why they must go to sleep if the others are all staying up. Mama Bear patiently explains that all the other animals are making their own last-minute preparations before going into hibernation themselves, just like bears do. She promises that when spring comes and the world is green again, they will wake and play. Until then, Mama Bear and Small Bear snuggle in tight and let the warmth of their den and the winter night’s lullabies soothe them to sleep.

A delightful wintertime bedtime tale. Caregivers will easily see the parallels between Small Bear bemoaning the fact that others get to stay up later, and White uses this as a nice way to counteract childhood bedtime FOMO as well as to explore how different animals hibernate over the winter. Kaulitzki’s illustrations are precious, using long lines and a contrast of warmth and cold to create cozy spaces, brisk landscapes, and charming animals, especially the bear families. The switch between regular and bolded text for the dialogue can be a little confusing at times, and two different fonts may have been a better choice. However, everything else works beautifully, and the length is great for a elementary-age storytime. JJ loved the all animals, especially the bond between Mama Bear and Small Bear. Overall, this is a winter bedtime treat that’s perfect for curling up with on cold nights. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Good Night, Good Night (Sandra Boynton)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Good Night, Good Night by Sandra Boynton, the original, longer version of the author/illustrator’s massively popular The Going To Bed Book.

After nearly 40 years in circulation, The Going To Bed Book gets an expansion based on Boynton’s original 1985 version, with redrawn illustrations to accompany the evergreen bedtime tale’s new layout. Fans of the story will enjoy the familiar rhyming text as it follows a motley group of animals at sea as they prepare for bedtime – brushing teeth, taking a bath, putting on jammies, and even working in a spot of exercise to get out that last minute energy. New scenes include cuddling into bed and a performance by two bunnies of a jaunty song about dreams of playing in the mud (including lyrics and musical notation). At last, the animals cut the lights and let the ocean gently rock them to sleep.

For nearly the entire first two years of JJ’s life, her bedtime routine included reading The Going To Bed Book, a perfectly paced and executed book that readers have been enjoying for decades. So naturally, we were excited to read this expanded version, and we weren’t disappointed! Boynton’s illustrations include all the fun and familiar visuals of the original, spaced out and with additional details to spot but otherwise effortlessly merging old with new. The addition of the song changes the story’s rhythm a bit, but JJ enjoyed the silly, simple tune immensely. Both versions are delightful in their own way, and present an opportunity to caregivers who can start with the board book version for very little bookworms, then introduce the expanded version as they grow. Overall, this was a treat – a fresh and fun new version of an undisputed classic. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Good Night Little Monkey (L.B. Fogt)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Good Night Little Monkey, written and illustrated by L.B. Fogt with layout by Rhonda Ernst, a sweet bedtime rhyme for little bookworms.

The sun has set, the day is gone, and it’s time for little monkeys to head to bed. In this case, “monkey” is synonymous with baby, as a charming, colorful cut-paper-art monkey leads readers through black-and-white stock photos of babies, saying goodnight to “monkey toes”, “little monkey ears”.

Very cute. This indie title has a few of the rough edges one might expect from a self-published book, including some out-of-focus images and a slightly nebulous theme, but the sweet tone and adorable monkey character makes these easy to overlook. The rhyming text is particularly well-balanced, flowing evenly and using simple language that sets a perfectly soothing pre-bedtime tone. The monkey character is a clever way to keep the visuals flowing and connect them to the text, and a banana-counting mechanic on the odd pages adds to the fun. The length makes it fine for any age, though the visuals and theme will be most engaging for baby and toddler-aged bookworms. Still, JJ and I both enjoyed it, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Arlo, The Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep (Catherine Rayner)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Arlo, The Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep by Catherine Rayner, a stunning bedtime story for the sleep-deprived.

Arlo is exhausted, yet sleep eludes him; everything seems to interrupt his attempts to settle. The grass is too prickly, the trees too noisy, the sun too hot, and his family pride of lionesses too wriggly. After trying everything he can think of to get some rest, Arlo comes upon an owl, who sympathizes – she must sleep during the day when it’s hot and sunny and noisy. Asking for her advice, Owl supplies him with the meditative song she sings to herself, to direct her thoughts and calm her body, until she can sink into sleep. Listening to his new friend’s song and following her direction, Arlo finds himself finally drifting off and awakening many hours later, refreshed and renewed. But in his excitement to tell Owl, he inadvertently wakes her up from her own slumber! Not to worry: Arlo now has a proven way to help soothe his new friend back to sleep.

Magical. Combining a soothing pace and relaxing text with gorgeous illustrations of gently endearing characters against magnificent landscapes creates a pitch-perfect bedtime tale for bookworms of any age. Owl’s soothing bedtime song – which features no specific melody, but can be easily and satisfyingly read as it appears – is frankly wonderful advice for those who struggle to find peace at bedtime; even adults may find her meditation helpful. And combined with the show-stopping art, it’s impossible to not fall under the story’s spell. The length was perfect for bedtime (what else?), and JJ adored both the art and story. Simply put, this one is a winner – Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Say Good Night (Lauren H. Kerstein)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Say Good Night, written by Lauren H. Kerstein, and illustrated by Nate Wragg, second in the duo’s series featuring the titular pair.

Charlie and his pet dragon Rosie are back, and ready for bedtime. Well, Charlie’s ready; Rosie would like a few extra minutes, please? In fact, mischievous Rosie seems determined to bend or break the rules at every turn of Charlie’s well-organized bedtime routine for her: she tries to sneak juice into her water bottle, overdoes it with the bath bubbles, and picks out footie pajamas for her and her beloved toy horse, Vern (despite Charlie’s attempts to explain that she will overheat… which she does). And just when Charlie thinks Rosie is down for the count, a scary thunderstorm starts up…

Very cute. The delightful dynamic of the particular and rambunctious Rosie, who causes the majority of the bedtime-related snafus, and the ever-patient and caring Charlie is absolutely charming, and paired nicely with the conversational dialogue and colorful, entertaining illustrations. Little readers will sympathize with Charlie’s attempts to usher Rosie through her routine – and in turn, may sympathize with their parents doing the same for them. But perhaps the most unexpectedly heartwarming quality of the book was how much JJ ADORED it; she has asked for several repeat readings, a rarity. Whether intentionally or not, Rosie displays characteristics of someone with ASD; she is nonverbal, requires very specific routines and comfort items, and is distressed by sensory overload (a too-hot set of pjs, a thunderstorm, etc). Yet Charlie treats her proclivities and preferences with patience and kindness, never losing his temper or scolding his scaly friend. It makes for a surprisingly rich and, at least from our perspective, layered tale of caring for friends who may be different needs. Great length, lovely book, and definitely Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the author in exchange for an honest review.)