Way Past Bedtime (Tara Lazar)


Hello, friends! Our book today is Way Past Bedtime, written by Tara Lazar and illustrated by Rich Wake, a fun fantasy that ponders a perennial childhood question: just what do parents DO past bedtime?

Tonight is the night, and Joseph is ready. He’s even oddly eager to go to bed, causing his parents to pat themselves on the backs for their superior bedtime skills. Little do they know, however, that Joseph is onto them, and tonight, his plan springs into action: he’s going to find out what happens PAST BEDTIME! He has his theories of course, centered around the rollicking, rowdy party that he’s sure they must throw: an incredible bash with six DJs, hot fudge fountains, and show-stopping mariachi performances. When the moment is right, he springs into action, putting on his invisibility clock (a blanket) and creeping past the guard (his sister). Spying mom and dad with his (cardboard) night vision goggles from atop the stairs, he sees that they’re… asleep? Fuming at them about the lack of party, his parents wake and laugh at his wild imagination, then return him to bed… but not before the audience glimpses a few clues that Joseph may not be so far off base after all…

Colorful and fun. The premise is one of those great, timeless childhood questions, and little readers will surely appreciate Joseph’s frustrations and laugh at his incredibly creative fantasies about the after-bedtime bash (which includes ninjas, puppets, magicians, celebrities, and more). Similarly, there are some great nods to the parents as well, and the clever illustrations do a great job of balancing big set-pieces and wacky characters with witty details. My only complaint is the ending, which feels a little abrupt and vague (though it’s hard to describe without spoiling the final twist). Still, the length was fine and JJ enjoyed the silly party scenes, so we can call this one Baby Bookworm approved!

It’s Not A Bed, It’s A Time Machine (Mickey Rapkin)

Hello, friends! Our book today is It’s Not A Bed, It’s A Time Machine, written by Mickey Rapkin and illustrated by Teresa Martinez, a delightful adventure that encourages little ones to be brave at bedtime.

“Be brave!” says the mom of our hero – a little boy – as she closes the bedroom door. “You’re the Boss of Bedtime!” But bedtime is a scary time, what with the dark corners and foreboding closets. As soon as mom is out of sight, however, his stuffed bunny Floppy has a counter-argument: it’s not a bed, it’s a time machine! Think about it: you fall asleep then wake up hours later – where did the time go?! Intrigued, the boy activates the time machine to travel to the past, all the way to the time of dinosaurs! Colorful beasts of all shapes and sizes roam across the landscape, doing hilariously human things like playing basketball or knitting. The two friends have now switched attitudes; Floppy feels a bit nervous, but the boy is in heaven, and even makes a special pet-like dinosaur friend. When the time comes to leave, he bids Dino-land farewell, and wakes up in his bed, excited to tell his mom about his dream… if it WAS a dream…

Wonderful! A creative concept with a practical lesson, the story both entertains little readers while encouraging them to create bedtime adventures of their own. The art in particular is phenomenal, rich with details in every spread, such as the subtle hints of foreshadowing in the boy’s messy bedroom and the wonderfully unique dinosaur village, and the character design is spot-on adorable. The length is perfect, and JJ the dino-lover went wild for this one. A fresh and fun bedtime book, and we recommend it – Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Bear Can’t Sleep (Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Bear Can’t Sleep, the ninth(!) story in Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman’s beloved Bear Books series.

The winter snows have piled up high around Bear’s cave, and he is tucked under his warm quilt head-to-toe. A perfect setting for a perfect hibernation, but just one problem: Bear can’t sleep. He tosses and turns, stares at the wall, tries to relax, but nothing seems to help. Mouse pops in to check on his friend, and is shocked to find Bear awake! More of Bear’s familiar pals are drawn into the cave to help him relax – brewing mint tea, warm milk, lullabies, and so on – but he is only growing more grumpy and bored of trying to drift off. At last, he channels his frustration to a fun activity: telling his gathered friends a new story to pass the time. But as the story nears its end, his audience hears a small snore and smiles, tiptoeing out as the bear snores on.

As always, just delightful. Sweetly calling back to Bear Snores On – the first of the series and basically this book’s opposite in terms of plot – the massive, cuddly-looking Bear and all his woodland friends are back. Fans of the series will recognize the familiar rhythm of the text, which has a wonderfully soothing flow and is a pleasure to read aloud. The illustrations, using semi-realistic animals and Bear’s familiar cozy cave as setting, are simply adorable. The length is great, and this would make a marvelous bedtime book, especially as a companion to Bear Snores On. JJ also adores these books, both for the easily-imitated rhythm and the rich, warm artwork. A great addition to a stellar series, and Baby Bookworm approved!

Bedtime For Little Bulldozer (Elise Broach)

Hello, friends! Our book for today is Bedtime For Little Bulldozer, written by Elise Broach and illustrated by Barry E. Jackson, a familiar bedtime tale with an oddball twist.

Little Bulldozer – a slightly scaled-down bulldozer with human parents – is ready for bedtime. He’s had his hugs, his bath, brushed his teeth, and is all snuggled into bed. Just one problem – he’s not in the least bit tired! He tries a few different methods of getting to sleep: checking under his bed (and accidentally knocking it over), assembling his stuffed animals for an impromptu storytime, even attempting to sneak downstairs. Each time, his parents catch him and attempt to settle him back down, but sleep eludes him still. At last, he decides to sneak down the hall to his sisters’ room; there, no longer alone, he is able to build a nest on the floor and go to sleep.

This hits some pretty tried and true beats for a “going to bed” book, and in a way that is creative for young readers and laughably familiar for parents. And while parents may question how two humans managed to have three construction vehicles as kids (Bulldozer’s sisters are an excavator and a steamroller), kids will likely just giggle at the absurdity of the situation and of Bulldozer’s antics. The soft-focus, dreamlike quality of the art makes it perfect for a bedtime book, and nicely imagines how a bulldozer might fit into human life. The length is great, and JJ enjoyed it – this one was fun. 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, Mr. Panda (Steve Antony)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Good Night, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony, a wonderful fourth entry to one of our favorite series.

The hilariously taciturn Mr. Panda is back – this time in adorable doughnut pajamas – with a lesson in proper bedtime routine etiquette. He notes, matter-of-factly, when his fellow animals have skipped a step: Skunk has missed his bath (which he claims to take only once a year), the sheep aren’t wearing pajamas, and stinky breath is a sure sign that Hippo hasn’t brushed her teeth. The perky lemur from the previous two books is happy to point out that he is minty fresh and squeaky clean! Only one more thing left to do before bedtime: say goodnight!

If you’ve read our previous reviews of this series, you know: I LOVE Mr. Panda. JJ LOVES Mr. Panda. The stone-faced bear in his wonderfully colorful outfits, set with a lively cast of characters against colorblock backgrounds, teaching manners and, in this case, good hygiene? Simply put, a winning mix. As always, the story features plenty of opportunities for fun voices when read aloud, and a hilarious twist ending that will have kids rolling. The length is great, and we adored it. Antony continues his stellar series with another delightful installment, and a perfect bedtime one at that. Baby Bookworm approved!