The World Champion of Staying Awake

Sean Taylor, illus. by Jimmy Liao. Candlewick, $15.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4957-9
This isn't the first book to subvert conventions by giving a child the responsibility of ushering others to bed, but it's easily one of the more lovingly executed and designed. Stella, a preschooler in a tank top and yellow slippers, is tasked with getting her three rambunctious playmates to bed. But Cherry Pig, Thunderbolt (a superhero mouse), and Beanbag Frog have other ideas, and their spot-on protestations will be instantly recognizable to both kids and beleaguered parents. "Sleep is too slow!" shouts Beanbag Frog, later complaining, "I've shut my eyes, but my feet are completely woken up." By using objects from around her bedroom to create imagination-fueled journeys by ship, train, and hot-air balloon, Stella accomplishes her mission with patience and style. In contrast to the spot illustrations of the main story, which are set against white backgrounds, the characters' imagined expeditions are rich, full-bleed watercolor scenes, accompanied by rhymed couplets that balance the rowdiness of the bedtime preparations with cozy imagery and soothing rhythms. It's just the thing for testing the mettle of those who would lay claim to the titular honorific. Ages 3–up. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/30/2011
Release date: 06/01/2011
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