cover image The Bedtime Train

The Bedtime Train

Joy Cowley, , illus. by Jamison Odone. . Front Street, $16.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-59078-493-8

When the pajama-clad boy in Cowley's (the Mrs. Wishy Washy books) scrupulously detailed bedtime book can't get to sleep, the solution is to board the “Bedtime Train,” en route to a muted dream landscape: “Can you hear it through the wall?/ Hear it coming down the hall?” The use of second person makes an exotic trip feel cozy, as does the legion of scarf-wearing penguins appearing on nearly every page. Rhyming couplets accompany the soothing chug of the train as it passes “a howling wolf, a growling bear,” continuing to “Alligator Lake,” and then to the realm of dinosaurs. Odone (Honey Badgers ) renders images like “Bright red popcorn.../ pouring from the gum machine” as gently as the rise and fall of the poetic cadence, and his animals show no real claws, given the subdued colors as well as their affable expressions. As the Bedtime Train is engineered by Brad, “who looks a bit like your own dad” (no mothers or mother stands-in here), the grand effect is more that of roaming through a museum space than a true hinterland, enabling sleep-resistant readers to enjoy the ornate journey without overexuberance or worry about returning safely home. Ages 4–7. (Oct.)