cover image Sleepy Bears

Sleepy Bears

Mem Fox. Harcourt Children's Books, $17 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-202016-3

Mother Bear's six children are balking at bedding down for the winter, but she coaxes them under the patchwork quilt with a clever stratagem: each cub gets a personalized bedtime rhyme. Baxter Bear hears about a pirate adventure: ""Raise the skull and crossbones,/ Breathe the salty air,/ Find your treasure, count your gold,/ And sleep without a care!"" In Tosca Bear's rhyme, the aspiring princess wears ""a crown of diamonds for your head,/ And gorgeous gowns of silken thread."" By the end, everyone is fast asleep, and it's up to a stuffed elephant to blow out the bedroom candle. Argent (previously paired with Fox for Wombat Divine) depicts the various bedtime fantasies with gusto in double-page, full-bleed spreads; one tableau showing a cub/hunter holding onto a magnificently rendered tiger by the tail is particularly striking. Following each rhyme, the book returns to the same wide-angle view of Mother and cubs under the quilt, each sleeping cub magically acquiring an accessory from his or her dream (e.g., Baxter sports an eye patch and pirate's hat; Tosca has donned crown and wimple). They look cuddly and warm, curled up together in a room suffused with golden candlelight--itself an enticement, since most children love the idea of a family bed, whether or not their parents do. With its sweetly varied scenarios, this amiable bedtime book offers a little something for everyone. Ages 3-6. (Sept.)