cover image Good Night, Stella

Good Night, Stella

Kate McMullan. Candlewick Press (MA), $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56402-065-9

Stella can't sleep after Dad tucks her in. Her active imagination has her formulating all kinds of spooky situations, as when she calls out to her father, ``Can your eyeballs fall out?'' When it seems nothing will calm Stella down, Dad relents and says she can wait up for her mother to come home. Stella relishes her freedom for a bit, then finds herself unexpectedly cuddling her equally restless teddy bears and drifting off to dreamland. In a humorous take on a well-worn scenario, McMullan (The Noisy Giants' Tea Party) makes good use of the popular reverse psychology employed by many parents. However, the story significantly switches gears midway through-when Stella is allowed to get out of bed-which upsets the pacing. Chichester Clark (The Minstrel and the Dragon Pup) harnesses Stella's energy and spunk in her pencil-and-watercolor artwork. The girl's stark white eyeballs popping out amidst the shades of nighttime blue somehow afford the reader an emotional bond with the character even as they provide comic relief. And, carefully appointed with toys and a pet hamster, Stella's bedroom will look tempting to even slightly weary readers. Ages 3-up. (Nov.)