cover image Good Night, Sleep Tight

Good Night, Sleep Tight

Mem Fox, illus. by Judy Horacek. Scholastic/Orchard, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-545-53370-6

This is one of those sneaky stories that starts out slight and unsurprising but is over far too soon. Fox combines the power of repetition with a lead character—a cool babysitter named Skinny Doug—who acts as a Scheherazade of nursery rhymes. His two charges immediately imagine themselves as players or spectators in the familiar rhymes: sitting in a yellow roadster (with Skinny Doug in the driver’s seat), they watch the little piggy run down a hill saying, “Wee, wee, wee, wee,” all the way home. Both enthralled and sensing a way to delay bedtime, the kids demand repeat performances (“ ‘We love it! We love it!’ said Bonnie and Ben./ ‘How does it go? Will you say it again?’ ”), only to discover that Skinny Doug always has a new tale up his striped sleeve. Horacek, Fox’s collaborator on the Where Is the Green Sheep?, has again found a text ideal for her naïf watercolor and ink cartoons. The pictures’ visual directness and goofy playfulness capture the spirit of the timeless rhymes and the enviable relationship between the lanky storyteller and his adoring audience. Ages 3–5. (Aug.)