cover image When Sheep Sleep

When Sheep Sleep

Laura Joffe Numeroff, , illus. by David McPhail. . Abrams, $15.95 (22pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-5469-4

For the child who isn't easily fooled into sleep—and the parent who must outsmart him—comes a soothing story that gently coerces little ones into bed. "When you can't fall asleep,/ Then try counting sheep!/ But what do you do if the sheep are asleep," beings Numeroff's (If You Give a Mouse a Cookie ) reprise of the "what if" game. Rhyming verse smoothly moves the story along, as a girl and her teddy bear consider other animal alternatives. From pigs that "snore in a heap" to "cats on the sofa/ .../ snuggled asleep," the two soon learn that no creature is immune to the lure of eventual slumber. The rhythm of the verse produces an almost hypnotic effect, the better to act as a sleep-inducing agent for young listeners. Muted watercolor images of dozing creatures tenderly capture the peacefulness that accompanies sleep. McPhail (Mole Music ) keeps readers' interest by mixing up the many perspectives from a child's eye–view, be it up close and personal while peering inside a rabbit hutch or observing a nest of birds from a safe distance. The final image of the entire ensemble at the foot of the bed of the now-sleeping girl leaves a satisfying last impression. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)