Mama, I Can’t Sleep

Brigitte Raab, Author, Manuela Olten, Illustrator
Brigitte Raab, trans. from the German by Connie Stradling Morby, illus. by Manuela Olten. Skyhorse/Sky Pony, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-61608-965-8
Reviewed on: 08/06/2012
Release date: 09/01/2012
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This collaboration from the team behind I Know Something You Don’t Know offers a gently different take on the insomnia theme, as Mama stays patient and rational right through a session with her wakeful daughter. Mama offers information about how animals sleep, taking her cue from her daughter’s stuffed leopard: “They just lie on a branch in a tree,” she says, “close their eyes, and sleep. Without a blanket, without a pillow, and without falling down.” Mama tells her daughter about storks, fish, and more, while Olten supplies pictures of adorably lumpy animals slumbering in trees or sleeping with one eye open, like ducks. The daughter tries each method of animal sleep herself: “Now my head is really heavy,” she complains, her belly button showing as she hangs from a trapeze, trying to sleep like a bat. “I can perform in a circus like this, but not sleep.” The ambiguous ending is open to multiple interpretations (the girl is shown wide awake, but she tells her mother she’s asleep), yet one thing is certain: mother, if not daughter, is definitely ready for bed. Ages 3–5. (Sept.)
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