Chengdu Could Not, Would Not Fall Asleep

Barney Saltzberg, Author, Barney Saltzberg, Illustrator
Barney Saltzberg. Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4231-6721-1
Reviewed on: 02/24/2014
Release date: 05/06/2014
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A small panda attempts to fall sleep in this humorous, subdued bedtime story. Chengdu is the only animal awake in his bamboo grove: “Chengdu turned and he tossed and he twitched,” writes Saltzberg (A Little Bit of Oomph!), “but he could not, would not fall asleep.” In one of the funniest moments, Saltzberg provides an extreme close-up of Chengdu’s wide-open eyes, turning the panda’s distinctive black eye markings into disembodied blobs against a field of white. Turning two graduated panels, readers follow Chengdu’s climb to a higher branch where he finds “the perfect spot” for sleeping—sprawled atop his sleeping brother, who then becomes the only creature still awake. In addition to those panels, several other gatefolds appear, including one that highlights Chengdu’s comical attempt to fall asleep by hanging upside-down. In keeping with the hushed tone and bedtime setting, the pages are dominated by inky nighttime blackness, interrupted only by the pandas’ white fur, the luminous white branches, and pale green shoots of bamboo. Restless sleepers with their own unorthodox “perfect spots” will relate. Ages 3–5. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (May)
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