cover image Twenty Yawns

Twenty Yawns

Jane Smiley, illus. by Lauren Castillo. Amazon/Two Lions, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4778-2635-5

In her first outing as picture book author, Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Smiley (A Thousand Acres) explores the spookiness of being awake when everyone else has fallen asleep. After a long day at the beach, Lucy and her parents are out of steam. Mom dozes off during Lucy’s bedtime read-aloud, and Lucy finds her father slumbering in his armchair when she tiptoes into the living room to retrieve her bear, Molasses. Lucy’s sense of solitude is sharpened as she sees her drawings hanging on her bedroom wall: “Everyone in the pictures seemed to be watching her—Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Elizabeth, Mom, and Dad.” But this haunted moment passes, and by the time Lucy has put her beloved stuffed animals to bed, she’s calm and ready for sleep. Castillo’s (Yard Sale) spreads call up just the right sense of moonlit otherworldliness. Her signature soft black outlines unite the beach prelude with the main nighttime story, and she quietly embraces diversity by making Lucy’s family biracial. As a bonus, readers can search for the title’s 20 yawns. Ages 3–7. [em]Author’s agent: Molly Friedrich, Friedrich Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary Management. (Apr.) [/em]