cover image Good Night Giants

Good Night Giants

Heinz Janisch, illus. by Helga Bansch. APA/Magination, $14.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4338-0950-7

Avoiding the pedantic tone that can appear in books that explicitly address childhood anxieties, Janisch and Bansch tackle sleeplessness with bustling text and hoppy illustrations reminiscent of quirky European theater performance. At bedtime, when it's time to settle down and relax, a pajama-clad child doesn't count sheep, but giants instead%E2%80%9434 of them. Bansch's (I Want a Dog!) pencil and paint spreads show the giants in a series of wonderfully surreal situations: "Six giants under the piano," one spread reads (one giant is dressed in a three-piece suit and gloves; another smiles at a diminutive cat). "Four giants in the bathtub," reads another (one giant wears only flippers, and has a cocktail glass balanced on his ample rump). Originally published in Germany, Janisch's (Noah's Ark) work isn't always well-served by the weak translation ("I look up, I look down./ I find all of my giants, those thirty-four clowns!"), but "The Giant's Song," which concludes the story, provides a cadenced, kid-friendly go-to-sleep technique: "Wiggle out your energy/ to get ready to sleep./ Put happy thoughts in your head/ and peace in your feet." Ages 4%E2%80%938. (Mar.)