Good Night, Little Monsters (Kara LaReau)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Good Night, Little Monsters, written by Kara LaReau and illustrated by Brian Won, a sweet bedtime story with a slightly spooky twist.

Readers are introduced to young monsters going through their bedtime routines – ones that they will recognize as similar to their own, while also being distinctly monsterly. A young “Frankenbaby” has his bolts loosened before he is tucked in, “Loch Nessie” snuggles between her larger parents, an upside-down vampire girl finishes her drink before brushing her fangs. Then, after the monsters have finished their nighttime rituals, the gang gathers in a tent under a moonlit night to enjoy a restful sleep while cuddling with all their pals.

Delightful! Filled with entertaining yet soothing rhyme, and featuring a cast of characters that veers well on the side of lovable rather than truly scary, this is a bedtime book perfect for “little monsters” of the human variety. The text has an excellent rhythm and flow, and JJ was easily able to recognize the similarities in her bedtime routine to the monsters’, which she loved. Won’s illustrations are adorable, using a colorful nocturnal palette to create the cute young monsters and their parents (the zombie family, shown as human in framed photos behind the baby zombie, may raise a few questions for adult readers, but kids aren’t likely to notice). The padded board book is a good length for right before bed, and we liked it a lot. Monstrously fun, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Stop That Yawn! (Caron Levis)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Stop That Yawn!, written by Caron Levis and illustrated by LeUyen Pham, a wonderfully unique bedtime fairytale.

Gabby is plumb tired of being, well, tired. All the pajamas, storytimes, and lullabies are simply too humdrum, and she’s ready for a change of pace. So one night, she convinces her Granny to take her to Never Sleeping City, arriving on her flying bed. Here is a place where there are no bedtimes, no sweet dreams, and nothing to do but stay up all night at carnivals, shows, and parties. But as Gabby and Granny are enjoying the ferris wheel, it happens: a yawn! Escaping from Granny’s mouth, the yawn quickly spreads through the city, overtaking the human and anthropomorphic animal citizens alike. Gabby tries to keep the partiers, the marching band, the mayor and even the reader from spreading the yawn and drifting off to sleep, but to no avail – once a yawn is passed on, there’s no stopping it. At last, Gabby accepts that a little sleep isn’t the worst thing, and settles in to bed with Granny – to keep the party going in her dreams.

Strange, delightful, and fabulously creative. Launching from the idea of the contagious yawn – a phenomena we’re all familiar with – the story ties into timeless imaginings of kids at bedtime: a place where they can stay up as late as they want, and the fight to stay awake even as sleep overtakes them. The Never Sleeping City, even in a half-muted palette, is a treasure trove of detail and character, and was a joy to explore along with Gabby. And the story balances the excitement of an adventure with the tone of a bedtime story nicely, gently concluding that sleep may not be as fun, but it’s necessary and inevitable. The length was great and JJ loved the vivid illustrations. A fresh and fun bedtime story, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved.

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

Fire Truck Dreams (Sharon Chriscoe)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Fire Truck Dreams, written by Sharon Chriscoe and illustrated by Dave Mottram, third in Chriscoe’s series of big-machine bedtime stories.

Following the same beats as the previous installments – Race Car Dreams and Bulldozer Dreams, – a fire truck finishes his busy day of rescuing kittens and putting out fires, heading home and keeping a proud, watchful eye over his neighborhood. After a refreshing wash and a story from the Rescue Readers Library, he nestles into his parking bay with his trusty Dalmatian and settles into sleep. When he dreams, it’s of saving the day at a bonfire and treated to a parade in his honor, appreciated for all the good that he does.

Very sweet. Once again, Chriscoe uses fluid, cheerful yet subdued rhymes to show how a sentient big vehicle ends its day just the same way the reader does, a treat for any young lover of big machines. The colorful art uses twilight color and lighting to set a peaceful tone that makes for a good bedtime read, adorable and visually interesting but not overly stimulating. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking in the way the story is presented, especially considering how much it shares with the preceding books in the series, but there’s something quite soothing in its simplicity – this is just the type of book that a little fire truck enthusiast would adore reading to wind down their day. The length is good, and JJ enjoyed it, so we can definitely say that this one is Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Zzzookeeper (Dr. John Hutton)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Zzzookeeper, written by Dr. John Hutton and illustrated by Doug Cenko, a fun bedtime romp about some mischievous zoo animals.

When the sun goes down and the zookeeper goes to sleep, that’s when the animals of the zoo get a chance to go a little wild. From the biggest crocodile to the smallest naked mole rat, nearly all the animals use their twilight hours to creep out and cut loose a bit. The big cats play in their ball pit, the birds in the aviary throw a rocking party, the manatees are having a birthday bash, and even the sloth and the slow loris get in on the fun. But when it’s time for everyone to settle down for their own nighttime snooze, the bedtime monitor Elephant is on the case. At last, even the rowdiest of the beasts is snuggled into bed – just in time to evade detection by the zookeeper.

Very cute! Between the bouncy rhymes and the delightfully energetic illustrations, this was a fun imagining of what zoo animals get up to after-hours. The activities chosen are fun and fanciful rather than truly mischievous, which makes staying up past bedtime – a common childhood transgression – the worst offense. There were a few text couplets that stumbled a bit in rhythm, and something about the way the elephants were drawn – trunk detached from their mouth – was slightly off-putting, but these were minor complaints. For the most part, this was a really enjoyable story that was a good length for bedtime and that JJ loved. Definitely Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Race Car Dreams & Bulldozer Dreams (Sharon Chriscoe)

Hello, friends! Our books today are Race Car Dreams and Bulldozer Dreams, written by Sharon Chriscoe and illustrated by Dave Mottram and John Joven, respectively.

Both stories follow the same beats: after a long and fun-filled day, the titular vehicle readies for bed, getting cleaned up, having a yummy meal, reading a book, then snuggling in for a good night’s sleep. After falling asleep, we follow each to dreamland to see what little vehicles dream of as they rest up for the next big day.

Very cute. “Getting ready for bed” books can often seem like a dime a dozen, and while they often employ a theme or gimmick, it has to be a good one to stand out. While I was a little surprised that the stories were so similar for both books, I understand the appeal: some kids like race cars, and some like construction vehicles. Beyond that, it’s the bouncy rhyming text and warm, cheerful illustrations that give these books their charm, and both have it in spades. From details like the race car snuggling his wrench for bed, the bulldozer dreaming of building a playground for smiling children, down to the living objects that populate their worlds, there’s a wealth of fun to be had for little bookworms who love things that go. The length of both is perfect for a bedtime story, and JJ (who is not normally a big vehicle enthusiast) really loved these and smiled from ear to ear as we read. Adorable bedtime fun, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of both books were provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author in exchange for an honest review.)