cover image Baby Bedtime

Baby Bedtime

Mem Fox, illus. by Emma Quay. S&S/Beach Lane, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4814-2097-6

Here’s a wonderful little lesson in the subjunctive from master teacher Fox (Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes). As a purple mother elephant gets her lavender baby ready for bed, she enumerates all the things she “could” do: “I could eat your little ears./ I could nibble on your nose./ I could munch your tiny fingers./ I could gobble up your toes.” Readers will instantly know that Mom has actually done—or is doing—all these things and more, but her savvy grammatical construction enables the mother elephant to assure her baby that he’s adorable while acknowledging the higher power of discipline and routine: “There comes a time for sleeping and our sleepy time is now.” Quay’s (Goodnight, Me) mixed-media pictures establish a mood of reverie, and her characters have blissful, loving expressions that keep the cooing text from turning soggy; sharp eyes will notice that she incorporates actual items of cozy domesticity, like doilies and handkerchiefs, into the pictures. After a few pages of soft-crayoned textures, pastel hues, and arm’s-length framing, a visual sameness sets in, though readers should find it soporific. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)