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Bedtime for Sweet Creatures

Book review by
Mandie Caroll, Common Sense Media
Bedtime for Sweet Creatures Book Poster Image
Lovely, relatable story of toddler delaying going to sleep.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Animal sounds (roar, hiss, etc.) and behaviors (hang on, crouch, lope) are represented with colorful, attractive drawings of the animals.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What 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.

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What's the story?

In BEDTIME FOR SWEET CREATURES, an typical toddler doesn't want to go to bed, yelling, "No! No! No!" Mom to the rescue as she coaxes her little one to bed, first by walking away with the child's favorite stuffed bear dangling from her hand. A huge blue bear walks next to Mom, the youngster runs to catch up. Tricked into bed, the toddler roars like a lion, ordering Mom to check under the bed for monsters, as a protective, pink lion perched on the bed looks on. After a story from the bookshelf, there are yawns and koala hugs. "I'm not sleepy," the tired child protests as eyelids droop closed. But wait! A crouching tiger of a child is now on the bed, bounding away for water, going potty once more, then back to bed. But will this child stay asleep? Don't count on it.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the things the toddler does to avoid going to sleep in Bedtime for Sweet Creatures. Do you do any of those things? Why do you think the child doesn't want to go to sleep? How can parents help their kids go to bed?

  • What do you think about how the animals are drawn? Which pictures do you like the best? Why?

  • Who puts kid(s) to bed in your family? What is your bedtime routine like? Is there anything you'd like to do differently that you think would help you get ready to go to sleep?

Book details

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