All the Awake Animals Are Almost Asleep

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Every parent who has ever dealt with a wide-awake child knows the value of a good please-go-to-sleep book, and All the Awake Animals Are Almost Asleep fits that bill.

All the Awake Animals, by Crescent Dragonwagon, is actually two books in one; a lullaby and an alphabet book. In the book, yet another sleepy child tells his mother he’s not sleepy, and the mother insists he is and orders him to go to sleep. When he asks how this can be done, the patient, loving mother explains that every creature has wide awake time and sleeping time.

As imaginary creatures crowd into the child’s bedroom for a closer look, mom explains, in rhyme, just how each creature goes to sleep. She begins with the letter A, and every animal she lists has a name that begins with a consecutive letter of the alphabet until she gets to Z. In short, her child gets a wonderful sleep-inducing bedtime story, and a crash course in the alphabet for good measure.

This is a cute book that should make a nice addition to every young child’s personal library. Dragonwagon’s text is peaceful and realistic, but parents and their children may find the tongue-twister animal descriptions a bit challenging:

“Swan, eyes shut, slumbers, standing single-legged on the shore as Snake sighs, and starts to slither toward a sweet, slumberous snooze…and Sloth just sleeps.”

This sentence and others like it proved a mouthful for me, but parents can easily make a game out of the repetition and alliteration.

David McPhail’s illustrations offer just the kind of exquisite details a true picture book lover demands. On first glance, the cover reminds readers of the Christmas nativity scene, with a child asleep in his humble bed in the center of the picture, and warm, loving animals staring wondrously at his sleeping face.

McPhail’s illustrations show everything; every crease in the elephant’s skin, every flowery pattern in the bedroom wall paper, every shining hair on each baby bison’s body, and every wrinkle in mama chimpanzee’s pursed lips. McPhail uses warm earth colors and ever-darkening blues and grays to set a soft, woozy tone sure to lull the feistiest baby into a deep sleep.

Besides its obvious purpose, this book can also be used in pre-k settings to teach letter recognition, as a nature book that teaches animal recognition and behavior, and as a story-starter for creative ways for a wound-up kindergartener to fall asleep.

Best wishes and happy alphabet,

Rita Lorraine

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