By its very definition a festival is a call to celebrate. It's an opportunity for people to band together to enjoy a shared passion, to commemorate a person, place, thing or event or to pause in their everyday lives for a much needed holiday. Whether it lasts for a single day or a week, a festival is generally filled with laughter, music, dancing and ... NOISE.
What's that you say? There's a gala dedicated to napping, dozing and dreaming? SnoozeFEST (Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, January 22, 2015) written by Samantha Berger with illustrations by Kristyna Litten is a joyful look at a sloth whose success at sleeping is unparalleled.
In the center of Snoozeville, dwells the wee one,
the sleepiest sloth, Snuggleford Cuddlebun.
It seems Snuggleford Cuddlebun is one of nature's finest when it comes to rest. The only thing ever to halt her deep repose is an annual ticket to SNOOZEFEST. She packs her essentials ready to ride the bus,
right in front of her home,
to the famous NuzzleDome.
Eager patrons patiently wait to enter the arena and then seek to settle in a spot right for the show. They've gathered their pillows, quilts and cuddliest toys. The variety of blankets is a sight to see; all of them named with great affection.
Once Snuggleford Cuddlebun locates a splendid nest swaying between two trees, she gathers memorabilia from vendors and makes sure to secure a savory cup of milk and honey to sip. Now cozily comfortable, she watches with the others as a P. J. Parade of opulent proportions winds through the park. When it's time for the bands to play, the radiant glare is no more; little lights from the audience blink and beam like a firefly convention.
First one act, then another take the stage and even more singing, playing and reciting poetic words of quiet and calm lull the listeners. Sweet Snuggleford Cuddlebun drifts into dreamland, content in her hammock. This sloth is sleeping through all the soothing sounds.
It comes as no surprise to anyone to see Sunggleford Cuddlebun wake last as days later the program comes to a close. She collects her things, heading home on the very same bus. Happy but exhausted in the comfort of her abode, she does what Snuggleford Cuddlebun does best.
Readers and listeners will thoroughly relish the way the words of Samantha Berger roll off their tongues. The rhythm of her rhymes will have you burrowing under a cushy comforter in no time at all. Sleep-inducing allusions welcome you to join in this fest dedicated to silence and siestas. The names given to the bands will have you smiling; Nocturnal Nesters, Tranquility Trio or Deep Hiber-Nation. Here is a sample passage.
It's dreamy to see the stuff everyone brings---
their wumphiest, coziest, comfiest things.
Bundles of blankets and fluffed feather beds---
puffy poofed pillows to prop up their heads.
The deep blues and purples surrounding Snuggleford Cuddlebun all nestled in her hammock between two trees wound with lights, looking down on the festivities, is enough to make you want to ask her if there's room for two. The soft curve of her smile as she holds her teddy bear sends out a feeling of total bliss. The second portion of the title, like a concert marquee, is a stroke of design brilliance. On the back, to the left, the first band is on stage, harp playing and counting sheep. Squares of fabric pieced together like a quilt lay patterned across the opening and closing endpapers. The concert theme is continued for the verso, dedications and title page with tickets holding the text.
A warm palette of rich light blue, turquoise, green, red, orange, yellow and brown with a cast of dusk-like hues at night are awash with life. Digitally rendered illustrations by Kristyna Litten colorfully compliment the narrative varying in size from two pages to smaller images liberally framed with white space grouped together to show the passage of time. Details define the characters and the SnoozeFEST; the matryoshka doll next to Snuggleford Cuddlebun's bed, the poster for the band, Hiber-Nation tacked to a tree, Snuggleford Cuddlebun's bedtime book, Big Bear, Big Sleep, and the signs held during the P. J. Parade, Alexander McDream and Louis Futon.
One of my favorite illustrations is the panoramic view of the SnoozeFEST after the lights have been dimmed inside The NuzzleDome. It's as if we are looking from another hammock on another side, seeing Snuggleford Cuddlebun to our left with an array of cozy resting places spread before us as members of the audience mingle below. In the center of the right portion the stage is nearly empty as a worker cleans it a final time before the first performance. Lights are strung from tree to tree glowing in the dark.
If you are ready to rest with a smile on your face, filled with dreams of gentle cheer, SnoozeFEST written by Samantha Berger with illustrations by Kristyna Litten is the book for you. Word choices will sing you to sleep and illustrations will wrap you in pure contentment. Grab your pajamas, pillows and snuggly blankets; I see a festival in your feature and snores galore.
To discover more about Samantha Berger and Kristyna Litten please follow the links attached to their names to visit their websites. This link takes you to Samantha Berger's blog where she shows her promotional posts for this title. Author and illustration Debbie Ridpath Ohi interviews Samantha Berger on her blog, Inkygirl.com Matthew C. Winner, a busy enthusiastic teacher librarian interviews Samantha Berger at Let's Get Busy Podcast #116. Enjoy the book trailer.