cover image Down in the Woods at Sleepytime

Down in the Woods at Sleepytime

Carole Lexa Schaefer. Candlewick Press (MA), $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-0843-9

As bedtime approaches the forest, settling down seems out of the question for a trio of bear cubs, while a quartet of young rabbits insist, ""We're still peek-a-booing."" As twilight's first stars appear, wise old Grandma Owl takes over. She knows there's nothing more soporific than a bedtime story, and she's barely gotten past the opener when the babies are cuddled up and drifting off. Schaefer (The Squiggle) makes some wonderfully evocative word choices: the hedgehogs, for example, prefer to ""snuffle for snacks in the mossy grass,"" rather than hit the hay. Cabban's (the Bertie and Small books) full-bleed watercolor spreads display a sense of elegance, particularly in the way she handles the colors and composition of the forest's foliage, and the shifting light as night descends. As for the animals themselves, they are plump, pert, but never cloying. Cabban's depiction of a zaftig Mama Toad momentarily forgetting the task at hand and proudly listening to her warty, bedtime-avoiding triplets croon, ""Hmm goo, mmm blup,"" exudes a knowing sense of humor. Author and artist make bedtime about as appealing as it gets. Ages 2-5. (Oct.)