The renowned Newbery and Caldecott awards were announced last week and here are the Newbery winners: Medal winner – Moon Over Manifest, by Claire Vanderpool; Honor awards – Turtle in Paradise, by Jennifer L. Holm, Heart of a Samurai, by Margi Preus, Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night,  by Joyce Sidman, and illustrated by Rick Allen, and One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia.  Now the Caldecott winners for the best picture books are:  Medal winner – A Sick Day for Amos McGee, illustrated by Erin E. Stead, and written by Philip C. Stead.  Honor books – Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave, illustrated by Bryan Collier, and written by Laban Carrick Hill and Interrupting Chicken, written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein.

Now here are some wonderful quick reads, geared for ages two to five, to help soothe youngsters into sleep and bedtime. I’m organizing these books into several categories.

First, the sleepy stories that will help mollify and pacify the reader into slumber. There’s a Train Out for Dreamland, beautifully illustrated by Jane and Brooke Dyer is based on a song first sung by Nat King Cole back in 1947. This is the kind of book that children will love to dream about. The train chugs along a peppermint rail around a candy mountain and practically everything seen out the windows is made of sweets.

The Sea of Sleep, by Warren Hanson, and illustrated by Jim LaMarche, is a calming story about Baby Otter beginning to drift off to sleep in his mother’s arms. But before he does, he sees the night sea as the waves rock back and forth and the schools of fish and dolphins as they swim in the light of the moon. The acrylic and colored pencil paintings fill the pages.

Switching on the Moon: A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems, collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, and illustrated by G. Brian Karas, is a nice collection of soothing poems with rhyming patterns that seem to lull young ones into sleep. What I like best about these beautiful poems is that they are short, but seem to help settle down youngsters to prepare them for sleep. So if time is short for a book, this is a nice alternative. And each poem has wonderful illustrations.

Here’s another book with quick stories that was first published back in the 1950’s.  The Teddy Robinson Storybook, by Joan G. Robinson, includes 15 short stories about a little girl and her beloved teddy bear, along with pencil illustrations sprinkled throughout by the author.

The Storyteller’s Secrets, by Tony Mitton, and with illustrations intermittently drawn in black and white by Peter Bailey, is another book with six richly woven stories told to a young brother and sister as they encounter a storyteller.

This second category includes bedtime stories with high adventure. Pajama Pirates, by Andrew Kramer, and illustrated by Leslie Lammle, will encourage sleep from the beautiful pastels painted throughout, creating the movement of the swirling sea and the pajama boy pirates drifting into adventures. The rhyming text will surely lull the listeners to sleep.

Moon Dreams, by Ruth Martin, and illustrated by Olivier Latyk, has young Luna wondering where the moon goes after she wakes up in the morning and can only see the sun. Her imagination begins to spin a tale that will only enhance dreams of youngsters about to fall asleep. The mixed palate of hues of blues and cream colors augment the story.

Bedtime for Bear, by Brett Helquist, has a most disgruntled bear who is ready for his long winter nap. When two noisy and high-octane raccoon friends show up outside his window, he can’t go to sleep. The paintings of all involved are what the author/illustrator does best, along with his wonderful exclamations and onomapoeic text makes this read rollicking fun.

Franklin’s Big Dreams, by David Teague, and brilliantly painted by Boris Kulikov, takes on an adventure just as a boy, Franklin, and his dog get ready for bed. A construction crew comes crashing into his bedroom and proceeds to lay down tracks and soon after a train comes whistling through. All the while Franklin sees everything from the safety of his bed. There’s much more waiting for Franklin in the coming days. Check out the inside front and back covers.

The Sleep Sheep, by Anna McQuinn, and illustrated with color, pen and ink by Hannah Shaw, takes on a completely different and hilarious concept from the “counting sheep” idea. Sylvie’s mother suggests that she count sheep to help her sleep. But the sheep she attempts to count are clever, crafty, funny and difficult to slow them down to count.

Stalling, by Alan Katz, and brightly illustrated with ink and watercolor by Elwood H. Smith, is full of rhyming fun as Dan tells his mom he can’t go to bed until he visits the Nile, tames a crocodile, and much more. By the time he’s done, there’s a funny surprise waiting at the end.


As an experienced children’s book reviewer with over 12 years of reading and writing about books, my goal is to inform parents, families, educators – and especially kids – about the best, newest and most appropriate books currently available on the market. I’m also the only national book reviewer searching for books with appropriate content for kids.