In the Night Garden

Book review by
Dawn Friedman, Common Sense Media
In the Night Garden Book Poster Image
Little girls stretch their imaginations before bedtime.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Celebrates big imaginations; girls set some stereotypes aside and pretend to be big wild animals, not kittens or ponies.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a sweet bedtime book that features girls with big imaginations.

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What's the story?

Three little girls romp in a dusky evening pretending to be wild animals before it's time for bed. One girl is a bear, one is a whale, and one is a sled dog. The lush illustrations show them howling, swimming, and running as themselves and as the animals they wish they were. When it's bedtime, they bring their animal selves inside, too, and go through their bedtime routine still in character until they finally cuddle up together to sleep.

Is it any good?

It's nice to see girl-characters with rich imaginations pretending to be more than princesses or soft kittens. These girls romp as powerful creatures -- baring sharp white teeth, pulling sleds and literally making waves. "The bear growls a warning. The whale dives deep. The dog sniffs the air." There's no simpering here! Both boys and girls will appreciate the girls' big imaginations.

This is a simple story with little text but it's a book to which every kid can relate, especially those preschoolers who spend their days being dogs, firefighters, and other favorite heroes. The deep, swirling pictures effectively convey the girls' dream world and help captivate readers to bring them into the story. The dark-purple colors on each page convey the seriousness of the kids' imaginings. The book ends cozily with familiar bedtime routines and a picture of the three little girls tucked into bed by loving but unseen adults, making it a comforting read for even the biggest dreamers. Sure to be a bedtime favorite.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the kinds of animals the girls choose to be. Why might they find them appealing? They can discuss other animals it might be fun to be before bedtime? Maybe that night the kids can choose an animal to be for their own bedtime routines!

Book details

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