For children, the only thing better than not having to go to bed at bedtime is finding out that bedtime has been canceled.
Bedtime Is Canceled is the delightful new picture book by Cece Meng in which a brother and sister accidentally cancel bedtime.
As Maggie and her brother wind down in their cluttered bedroom just before bedtime, Maggie thinks up a funny sentence: “Bedtime is canceled.” Her brother writes it on a piece of paper, then the two little imps present the note to their parents.
The unimpressed parents send their children straight to bed, never suspecting the fun is only just beginning. The brother tosses the note into the trashcan near the window, but a gust of wind lifts it up and out until it’s floating serenely across the middle of town. It lands on top of a newspaper reporter’s stack of work, and he accidentally sends it to the printer.
The bedtime announcement makes the front-page headlines and the paper hits all the newsstands. The school principal retrieves the paper off her stoop the next morning, and goes into shock to find that bedtime has been canceled. She then informs all the parents who stomp and scream and pull their hair because they know what they’re in for if their children no longer have to go to bed.
The children stay awake all night, the televisions stay on all night, and the dishes stack up because the children keep eating snacks instead of going to sleep. The sleepy teachers forget how to add and subtract, exhausted parents butter the dog’s tail instead of the toast, and everyone’s eyes get heavier and redder, but no one goes to sleep.
Bedtime is Canceled is an imaginative little “what-if” book that is sure to fire imaginations about the serendipitous effects of cancelling bedtime.
Ms. Meng writes with a brevity that keeps the plot moving, and a wit that keeps everyone entertained in the process. Artist Aurelie Neyret’s drawings include predictably junky bedrooms, exhausted parents who fall asleep in their mashed potatoes, and sleepy-eyed children who couldn’t be happier about this latest turn of events.
As funny as this book is, it can still be used to open discussions about the need for daily routines, the science of sleep, the effect of exhaustion on behavior, and the exploration of other “what-if” scenarios.
This one is worth losing a little sleep over.