Quote of the Month

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

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Give Me Sleep

You know the feeling.  You're so tired you could sleep nearly anywhere but the spot you long for most is your personal place.  It doesn't matter if it's big or small, hard or soft, or covered in cozy quilts and bunches of fluffy pillows or a single blanket and a single pillow.  Your bed is your sanctuary.

When you settle in for a serene night of rest and the sweetest of dreams, every muscle relaxes and all the worries of the day fade away. At least this is how it's supposed to be.  In Go sleep in your own bed! (Schwartz & Wade Books, May 2, 2017) written by Candace Fleming with illustrations by Lori Nichols animals on a farm are having a not-quite-right night.

Snuggled in.
Snuggled down.
Bedtime on the farm.

Hardly able to keep his eyes open Pig strolls toward his sty.  Rolling into his mud, he realizes someone is in his bed.  Cow is hogging his space.  Pig orders him to go to his own bed.

Cow ambles into her stall and lies down but a horrible squawk startles her.  There's a hen roosting in her hay.  As did Pig, she orders the chicken to go to her own bed.

To Hen's surprise a very large member of the farm community is occupying almost the entire coop.  She clucks and clucks until the intruder wanders over to his bed.  As you can probably surmise, Horse is unable to sleep in his stable.  Someone else is in the wrong bed.

This series of out-of-the-ordinary events continues until the last animal, resigned to her fate, settles down on her particular, private bed.  Will she remain there?  Unlike the others will she find a warm, welcoming snuggling place?

Bedtime on the farm.

The first three phrases lead readers gently into what they believe will be a nighttime ritual on the farm.  It's a perfect beginning for the hilarity which follows.  Candace Fleming understands her intended audience (and those young at heart) by asking them to participate with a repeating question and sentences.  Her word choices supply a visual of the movements from place to place by the animals and how they settle in their beds only to discover they are not alone.  The words uttered by the animals when ordered to leave are full of fun and sure to generate giggles and grins.  Here is a sample passage.

"Oh, w-w-w-h-o-o-o-a is me," whickered Horse.
And he shambled to his stable, cloppety-plod.

But when he settled down---
Who do you think he found?

When you open the matching dust jacket and book case the front is the first hint things might be a little unusual on this specific night; a cow curled up in pig's sty is a tad strange.  And the one-eyed look Pig is giving Cow is most definitely the tiny start of the huge humor which follows.  To the left, on the back, Hen is nearly sleepwalking to the coop.  She can't see what readers can; the backside of a horse is facing the entrance.  On the opening and closing endpapers, done in a deep midnight blue and a lighter blue for outlining with hints of white and golden yellow, another story is being told.  You will get a chuckle out of the conclusion on the closing endpapers.  Each one is a scene of the layout of the farm...with a few changes.

A two-page picture of the farm at night from the vantage point of a tree top supplies the canvas for the verso and title pages.  Here as on the jacket and case Lori Nichols continues the limited color palette, hues of blue, purple, brown, white, pale yellow and green.  (Splashes of other colors make an appearance in a few illustrations.)  An owl watches with eyes wide open.

The image sizes vary from two page pictures to single page illustrations and other visuals on a single page surrounded by white space.  These pair perfectly with the narrative supplying a cadence for readers.  Rendered in acrylic ink using a dip pen and colorized digitally the looks on the characters' faces and their body postures will have you laughing out loud.

One of my favorite of many pictures is when Cow settles into her stall only to discover Hen is there.  Large portions of white space frame the stall divider, another cow, Cow and the sleeping Hen.  Cow is curled on her hay but the


has her giving the source of the sound a one-eyed look.  Hen is sleeping on her back, wings spread and red and white stripped legs straight up in the air.

Go sleep in your own bed! written by Candace Fleming with illustrations by Lori Nichols is meant to be read aloud one-on-one or with a group.  Readers will quickly join in when the repeating phrases appear.  They will be delighted by the word choices supplying sounds and moods of the animals.  This is perfect for bedtime but I will be sharing it anytime I can.

To learn more about Candace Fleming and Lori Nichols and their other work, please follow the links attached to their names.  At the publisher's website you can view interior images including the opening endpapers.  Lori Nichols is featured on Andrea Skyberg's website.  Enjoy the adorable book trailer.

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