Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Friday, June 20, 2014


On any given day, depending on whom you talk to or the hour, most will agree the passage of time is tricky.  For the most part it goes faster than intended, especially if you are enjoying a particular activity.  Whether anyone is willing to admit it or not, age is definitely a factor.  It's been said the perception of time going faster the older you are is because you are not experiencing nearly as many first-time events.

Endless energy seems to go hand in hand with youth as does leaping from one endeavor to another numerous times between awakening and falling asleep.  It's no easy task to turn off all that get-up-and-go.  If you think little humans are the only ones with all this zest, zip and zing, think again.  Time for Bed, Fred! (Walker Books For Young Readers, an imprint of Bloomsbury, February 11, 2014) written and illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail (born in Dublin, now based in London) follows a cutie-pie pooch that is simply not ready for rest and relaxation.

It's time for bed, Fred!
Oh no, Fred,
where are you going?

In Fred's mind bed fills him with dread.  There is still too much to do. There is furniture to knock over, gardens to hide in and trees to climb.  Trees to climb?  How did Fred get in a tree? 

Fred wants to dig in the dirt, sniff a caterpillar and scratch the itch that won't quit.  Oh! No!  Not the puddle Fred!  Now Fred is up to his perky ears in bubbles having a bath.

Barely in the tub, he is racing out and down the stairs.  This bundle of fur is full of fast and furious.  Shaking out his coat right next to the clean laundry (Why do they always do that?), Fred is ready for a game of hide and seek.  Where could he be?  

It's getting later and later but Fred brings a book to his human, a request for a bedtime story.  His wish is granted but now he needs to find his bed.  That's what I call a great stalling technique.  Very clever, Fred!

An unseen narrator is in pursuit of Fred, trying to persuade him to call it a day and hit the hay.  Based on the simple sentence structure and word choices Yasmeen Ismail depicts the voiced thoughts of a younger person.  Readers, no matter their age, can easily identify with the events in this story as well as recall those times they avoided bedtime at all costs. The pauses between each phrase raise an already funny book to the status of downright hilarious.

Except for the book case, where we can already see Fred is a rascal, liberal use of white space acts as a canvas for Yasmeen Ismail's cheerful watercolor illustrations.  Each picture is full of the lively antics of this comic canine.  Loose sketches of Fred in various poses among scattered bones, black on red, cover the opening and closing endpapers. 

Ismail may use a full two pages for her visual as in the opening line where six different time pieces all pointing to eight o'clock are featured, signaling bedtime.  Fred is gazing up at the one bonging out the hour.  In contrast if Fred is moving at lightning speed from place to place, she will cluster two or three smaller pictures on a single page.  The expressions on Fred's face combined with his body postures and movements will have readers smiling with every page turn.

Two of my favorite pictures are of Fred in the garden and when he is carrying a book titled WOOF! by R. Hound in his mouth.  The disparity between all the delicate colorful flowers and his dark form lying low in the shallow hole of dirt is grin-inducing.  I can already hear the children laughing when they hear the text accompanying this illustration.  His body covering most of two pages, looking hopefully at his human, with the open book in his mouth goes straight to this book lover's heart.  Who wouldn't read a story to that dog?

Energetic and entertaining, Fred will have you rooting for him all the way in Time for Bed, Fred! written and illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail.  Perfect anytime but especially for bedtime this book is a keeper with a capital K.  I would pair it with All The Awake Animals Are Almost Asleep, Sleep Like A Tiger or Dream Animals.

Head to Yasmeen Ismail's website by following the link embedded in her name.  She has pictures from Time for Bed, Fred! on a specific page for this book.  Plus you get to see much more of her wonderful artwork.

This is the image used for the cover in the UK.

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