cover image I Just Want to Say Good Night

I Just Want to Say Good Night

Rachel Isadora. Penguin/Paulsen, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-17384-4

Isadora (I Hear a Pickle) revisits the rural African setting of some of her fairy tale retellings in a story spotlighting the age-old phenomenon of bedtime stalling. Despite her parents’ directives to come indoors, a girl named Lala—pictured with deep brown skin, spiky braids, and a cream-colored shift dress—insists that she needs to say good night to every animal in sight. “I just want to say good night to the cat,” she says, before moving on to a nearby goat, bird, monkey, dog, chickens, and (as her options dwindle) a trail of ants and a rock. The repetition gives the story a predictable, lilting cadence that invites children to echo Lala’s good night wishes. Eventually, she climbs into bed with a copy of Goodnight Moon and bids the moon good night; oddly, she ignores the baby sibling asleep beside her bed. Through the setting is never described more specifically than the “African veld,” Isadora’s dramatic oil-and-ink artwork offers tender portraits of Lala gently interacting with each animal against a darkening landscape as the sun descends, the moon rises, and shadows emerge. Ages 3–5. (Mar.)