written by Nikki Grimes
illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2020
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Bedtime for Sweet Creatures
From the Book
“No! No! No!
You beat the word like a drum
the minute I say
“Come, sweet creature.
It’s bedtime. But Mommy’s little girl is not sleepy.
She growls like a bear, she questions like an owl, she tosses her mane like a lion. How can Mommy tuck her in now?
Mommy needs to wrangle her sweet creature in this endearing and imagination-fueled journey to bedtime.
Awards and Recognition
- Barnes & Noble Best Books of the Year
- Boston Globe Best Books of 2020
- CCBC Choices 2021
- Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature Best Books 2020
- Chicago Public Library Best of the Best List 2020
- Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books of 2020
- Nautilus Book Award, Silver, Picture Book category
- Nerdies: Best Fiction Picture Books 2020
- Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year
Join me on the PJ Party on the Trolley reading Bedtime for Sweet Creatures, an opportunity provided by Wild Rumpus Books for Young Readers in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
A patient mother with a healthy sense of whimsy helps prepare her headstrong toddler for bed. … Zunon’s art takes this book to the next level: Her portrayals of the animals mentioned in the text are colorful and full of intriguing patterns and shapes. Additionally, the expressions on the faces of the mother, child, and animals speak volumes, portraying the emotions of each. … An adventurous treat of a bedtime story. (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)
“No! No! No!” begins Grimes’s rhythmic, playful romp through a restless child’s bedtime routine. As the toddler resists sleep, a mother patiently creates an imaginary menagerie via vivid similes — “Your eyes swell, wide as owls… You coil beneath the quilt, silent as a snake” — transforming a bedroom into a forest full of friendly creatures. Zunon’s expressive, heavily textured collage is interspersed with abstract animals (evocative of Senufo textile art), clearly delineating imagined from real. Despite the mother’s best efforts at trumpeting away any monsters and checking under the bed before reading the child a story, the child appears at the parents’ bedside in the late night hours, pleading, “Mommy, can I sleep with you?” As she opens the covers for the tot to join, the parade of gentle beasts joins, helping to lull the now “very sleepy child” into slumber — and turning the visually pleasing adventure into a loving, effective lullaby. (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
In this exceptionally well-done title, readers follow a young child on a before-bed adventure. The book opens with a toddler shouting “No! No! No!” It continues, “You beat the word like a drum the minute I say, ‘Come, sweet creature. It’s bedtime.’” The gorgeous illustrations are from the child’s perspective. For example, when the child answers their mother, the lyrical text says their eyes get big as an owl’s. On the opposite page and part of the adjacent page are three large yellow-and-orange owls. Other items encountered on this bedtime routine are a large green, blue, and yellow bear; a forest scene; a snake; a giant pink-and-orange lion in bed; a blue-and-green fawn; a green-and-pink squirrel; and more. The words and the art are perfectly matched: when getting tucked in, the child, who is beside the large imaginary colorful lion, tells her mom to check underneath the bed for something vicious. Mom says, “I kneel on the forest floor, find something wild and ferocious.” Underneath the bed is a small gray-and-white kitty. The text reads, “Meow.” The illustrations and execution of this title give it a fresh approach to a subject that resonates with families raising small children. (School Library Journal, starred review)
Grimes and Zunon have created an adorable and imaginative bedtime story to add to collections for young children. Narrated by the mother of curly-headed child in red, footed pajamas, the familiar saga of getting an unwilling child into bed unfolds. As the petite main character tries to avoid going to sleep, Mom endeavors to turn bedtime into a fun activity. The house becomes a wilderness, with the child roaring like a lion in protest and loping, antelope-like, down the hall, as Mom kneels on the forest floor (green carpet) to check for monsters under the bed. Koala hugs and a fox-sly dash for one last drink of water also make appearances. Packed with phrases children will know, such as “No!” “I love you,” “I’m not sleepy,” and“Once upon a time,” young readers or listeners will recognize themselves in this accessible book’s pages. Zunon uses various styles and materials in collaged spreads that boast bold colors, a menagerie of animals, and traditional African patterns to convey the story’s childlike spirit of adventure. The mother’s loving understanding is demonstrated by how she works with her child’s rich imagination, never slipping into admonishment. As such, children will engage with the pajama-clad tot’s antics and be soothed by the book’s positive tone. A fabulous interpretation of an everyday battle. (Tiffany Flowers, Booklist)
Grimes and Zunon capture the time-for-bed dance with verve, imagination and empathy in this tale of a not-sleepy child and her creative appeals to stay up longer. The affectionate mom evokes a range of animals to help her cause: “Your eyes swell, wide as owls. … ‘Who? Who?’ you ask as if you didn’t know,” she says. On each lovely page, Zunon collages realistic images of the family alongside fanciful, mythical-looking animals. With its refreshing ending — the girl ends up in her parents’ bed, as so many children do — this one has the feel of an all-time great bedtime picture book. (Maria Russo, The New York Times)