cover image Sleepyhead


Karma Wilson, , illus. by John Segal. . S&S/McElderry, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-1241-5

It's bedtime and someone has a master procrastinator on her hands: "Your teeth are brushed,/ your book is read./ Go to sleep./ it's time for bed." Segal adds visual intrigue by casting the character in the caregiver role as a cat, and the title Sleepyhead as a teddy-like bear. Every time the feline points out that all the bedtime ritual bases have been covered, the cub retorts with a request for "one more" of something—a hug, a kiss, "one more story said just right/ one more gaze upon the night." Exhaustion finally wins, but not before giving readers plenty of opportunities for a goodnight giggle. Wilson's (Bear Snores On ) rhyming, lilting narrative wryly captures the domestic brinkmanship. Expressive typography, which uses rising and falling font sizes, and even the spacing between words, gives voice to the caregiver's thinning patience and the cub's obstinacy. Segal's (Carrot Soup ) velvety watercolors run an expertly paced gamut from tiny spot drawings to bravura full-bleed spreads. Their whimsical tone becomes more profound as it conveys how the cub's intractability fuels his imagination. When the cub insists on another drink of water, Segal portrays the feline clutching an outstretched glass as she tries to navigate a rowboat in an ocean, while Sleepyhead rides bareback on a swordfish. A fresh and funny take on a familiar battle of wills. Ages 3-7. (Oct.)