10 Minutes Till Bedtime

Peggy Rathmann, Author G. P. Putnam's Sons $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-399-23103-2

Caldecott Medalist Rathmann (Officer Buckle and Gloria) builds a captivating series of mini-plots from a basic countdown premise with few words and abundant action. A child--who could be a girl or boy--plays with an energetic hamster family with just 10 minutes to go before she's tucked into bed. As the child's father idly reads the newspaper and clocks the passing time (""9 minutes till bedtime""), a rotund hamster in a blue conductor's uniform echoes each announcement with a tiny megaphone. Meanwhile, the hamster parents and their 10 active offspring, distinguishable by numbered yellow-and-red striped jerseys, frolic throughout the house. Rathmann endows each with a distinctive personality: Numbers 3 and 4 are twins, 8 shows only its rear end and stroller-bound toddler 10 declares ""eat"" and ""more!"" After additional golden-brown rodents arrive (in Goodnight Gorilla fashion) at the front door (raising the count to well above 50), the child reads this very book to a vast audience, takes a bath surrounded by furry beachgoers (and lotion, ants and sunglasses galore), then hurries through other pre-bed rituals before a final cry of ""Bedtime!"" Every engrossing illustration provides an exercise in numerals and Where's Waldo?-style concentration; die-hard fans will not only count Gorilla among the throngs, but Officer Buckle opens and closes the show, and young readers will note Rathmann's return to Napville for this nocturnal adventure. If Rathmann has her way, young slumberers will be counting hamsters, not sheep, as they drift off to sleep. Ages 2-6. (Sept.)
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