cover image Bedtime!


Ruth Freeman Swain. Holiday House, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1444-4

Though books about bedtime abound, young readers are unlikely to find many books like this one, about the beds themselves. Swain's picture book debut takes a quirky, informative look at beds through the ages. In an inviting storytelling style, she spans time and geography to describe the furniture on which people sleep, from the wooden bed frames used in ancient Egypt to large communal beds of 16th-century Europe and South American hammocks. Along the way, she frequently makes comparisons between historic and modern sleeping quarters and also provides some fun facts, pointing out, for example, the unusual places where truck drivers, astronauts and mountain climbers catch some shut-eye. But Swain's attempt to cover so much territory in a traditional picture book format results in a few awkward transitions in the text. Smith's (Nine for California) cheery watercolors capture both well-researched details and the illustrator's sunny sense of humor (kids will chuckle at King Louis XIV jumping on one of his 413 magnificent beds). No matter where they are tucked in, her many slumbering subjects look cozy indeed. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)