cover image TEN SLEEPY SHEEP


Phyllis Root, , illus. by Susan Gaber. . Candlewick, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-1545-1

Root's (The Name Quilt ) bucolic bedtime counting book uses some spirited lambs to help young readers unwind. " 'Time to sleep,'/ call the mama sheep/ in the grass knee-deep./ But ten little sheep/ don't want to sleep." A rhythmic, alliterative countdown ensues, as one by one the spunky lambs conk out at various places around the farmyard. "Five sheep scoot/ past the red barn door./ Swallows swoop./ Barn owls whoop./ Sleep, sheep ./ Now there are..." (the numeral four tops the next spread). The italicized plea to sleep appears just above a vignette of a lamb settling down next to a bale of hay. The same lamb—looking more sluggish than his bouncy companions—can be found in the spread's main illustration. Gaber's (The Very First Thanksgiving Day ) acrylic and pastel artwork nimbly portrays the energetic but dwindling flock while maintaining a dream-like air with soft edges and backdrops of dusky greens and blues. The pastoral scenes offer varied perspectives, from close-ups of the young sheep cavorting in a pond to aerial views of them frolicking amid the farm's routines as the day winds down. Comfortingly predictable in layout and rhyme scheme, this book serves as a soothing numerical nightcap. Ages 2-5. (Mar.)