A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Animal sounds (roar, hiss, etc.) and behaviors (hang on, crouch, lope) are represented with colorful, attractive drawings of the animals.
Bedtime is often an adventure. Parents work hard to be patient and loving. Toddlers are incredibly persistent in meeting their needs and wants, but parents have lots of tricks that can coax toddlers to do what they must. And one for the parents: A little imagination and lots of patience are often helpful in getting toddlers to sleep.
Positive Role Models
The mother is a near-saint who coaxes her stubborn toddler into bed with creativity and grace. The toddler is a master of (often adorable and ridiculous) delaying tactics, resists what they need, and does what they want to do. All characters are Black, and the toddler's gender is not made clear (red pajamas, no gendered pronouns used), which makes it easy for different kinds of kids to see themselves in this sweet, rebellious, tired child. Traditional gender roles in parenting are represented: the mother takes on the task of putting kid to bed, walking past the dad, who's laying on the couch, reading.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Bedtime for Sweet Creatures, is by award-winning author and poet Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon. In this sweet bedtime story, a familiar-seeming toddler resists going to sleep through a series of animal-inspired delaying tactics (hissing like a snake about monsters, hanging onto mom like a koala, and bounding out of bed for a drink like a fox hunting for water). The mother is wonderfully creative and patient in guiding the bedtime routine. The very real message here is that bedtime is an adventure with young children, and sometimes it helps when parents play along, but you'll probably end up slumbering with your tot in the end. Zunon's animals are filled with interesting patterns, shapes, and colors that will appeal to young children and adults alike. All (human) characters are Black, and the child is not identified by gender, making it easy for all kinds of kids to see themselves in this lovely, rebellious child. The dad is present, but does not participate in the bedtime routine.
Is It Any Good?
This delightful story captivates readers with familiar bedtime struggles and absolutely lovely art. Author Nikki Grimes' words often verge on the poetic, with gems like, "Your bookshelf is noisy with stories," and "you yawn and grind your teeth like a squirrel ready to nibble the night." Young readers of Bedtime for Sweet Creatures will recognize themselves in the toddler's delay tactics and susceptibility to parental tricks (like using Bear to get the tot in bed), and parents will relate to the mom's endless summoning of patience. Illustrator Elizabeth Zunon's colorfully collaged backgrounds and patterned, abstract imaginary animals make this book shine; it's worth owning just for the art. Expressive faces capture the drama of bedtime, and the animals come off as sweet and wily as the child.
One quibble is that the dad doesn't help with (or take on) bedtime. In fact, he in relaxes on the couch with a book while mom tackles the challenge, an image which may reinforce traditional gender roles in parenting for young children. Despite this critique, it’s a truly wonderful story with great art that readers of all ages are likely to enjoy.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.