The days are short, and the nights are dark and long.  If you’re looking for a nice picture book to settle youngsters down for the night – look no further.  Some of these books are about sleep and others are just great stories.  All of these books are quick reads and are perfect for ages three to seven.

Good Night, Mr. Panda, by Steve Antony, is another humorous story of Antony’s popular and well-loved series dealing with Mr. Panda and his sidekick, Lemur.  As with his other wonderful books that teach manners (Thank You, Mr. Panda), and being respectful (I’ll Wait, Mr. Panda), this book teaches reminders of bedtime preparations.  Mr. Panda’s friends are getting ready for bed, but he reminds each of them something they forgot to do before getting into bed.  As with Antony’s other books, there is a hilarious surprise waiting at the end.  The delightful art was done with pencils and graphite sticks.   Kids of all ages will adore these books. 

Dreamland, by Noah Klocek, is a lullaby of exploration.  A young girl loves being read to by her daddy while wrapped up in her favorite blanket.  But her dreams were difficult to locate once she was asleep.  The story takes the little girl past the moonlight that fell in her room, through tangles of shifty shapes that she tames and beyond the whistle of a distant train.  Her ultimate goal is accomplished as you see her snuggled and smiling while deep in sleep. This story leaves a door open for another book to continue and showcase what she is dreaming about so contentedly.  The digitally made artwork is rich and covers both pages of the open book.  The text flows simply, softly and dreamily.

Sleep, My Bunny, by Rosemary Wells, is a lyrical ode to sleep with text of few words that is enlarged on one side of the open page and vivid color of a bunny family getting ready for bedtime on the other side. Hush now, you hoot owls, and crickets be wary – the moon is hiding behind the next cloud.  The vibrant illustrations were made with mixed media and pastels on sanded paper.

When Your Monkeys Won’t Go to Bed, by Susanna Leonard Hill, and cleverly illustrated with much humor by Daniel Wiseman, is a humorous small-sized board book that gives directions of how to fall asleep.  A young girl, in pajamas, is attempting to get her two little mischievous monkeys to go to sleep.  She gives advice of how to maneuver them upstairs to have a bath and then to “book time”.  But what ultimately gets them all to sleep, including the youngster, will give you a chuckle and presumably help your little monkeys sleep as well.  The drawings of the antics of the monkeys as the girl deals with them will surely bring smiles to all who read this cute little book.

Sleepover at the Museum, by Karen LeFrak, and boldly painted covering the entire page by David Bucs, is an adventure three friends take to help celebrate a birthday.  Mason takes his best friends with him to sleep at the Museum of Natural History, but they must first go on a scavenger hunt to each hall and solve the clues.  Mason gets to decide which hall to sleep in after exploring the entire museum.  There is much to learn about animals, extinct or otherwise, throughout this well-done book.  Be sure to check out the end pages as well as more information found at the back of the book.

Kitten and the Night Watchman, by John Sullivan, and wonderfully illustrated using digital and hand-printed textures by Taeeun Yoo, is a sweet story with short simple sentences on each page describing life from the perspective of a person who works through the night.  His watchful eye upon a construction site that is long and dark.  But he is not alone.  He has found a lost kitten who ends up following him around the site as he inspects and makes sure all is safe.  When his job is done, the dark sky lightens, and he is about to bring this small kitten home for a surprise to his children. 

Stop that Yawn!, by Caron Levi’s, and brightly painted by rendering in croquille and India ink on Bristol board, and then colored digitally by LeUyen Pham, is a delightful read out loud for all as you get ready for bed.  Young Gabby desires to escape Sleepytown and convinces her cute granny to get out of town and head over to Never Sleeping City.  They find a bustle of activity happening there, even a zealous carnival. But when Granny lets out a large blue yawn, Gabby must chase it through the streets before everyone begins to yawn and ultimately fall asleep.  Here is one delightful story that will be begged to be reread again and again, and night after night.

Fox Explores the Night, by Martin Jenkins, and beautifully painted in mixed media by Richard Smythe, is an excellent new series featuring science concepts.  This book takes you along with fox as he goes through the darkening sky after leaving the safety of his den.  She is hungry and finds a mouse.  However, the mouse is too fast and she needs to continue looking for something to eat.  The concepts being taught here are light and dark and in an easy format.  You will learn more about this subject to discuss with your curious reader at the back of the book.

The Real Boat, by Marina Aromshtam, and perfectly illustrated in rich color covering many pages with mixed media by Victoria Semykina, is a book originally written in Russian and recently translated by Olga Varshaver.  A paper boat becomes enraptured with the ocean and is becoming a real boat.  So, he sets out to find the ocean by first floating in a pond, and then a stream and ultimately finding the ocean.  Along the way, he meets many friends which include a small tug boat and a huge ocean liner.  When he finally achieves his dream of becoming a real boat, you will find yourself thinking about all he had to go through to achieve this success.

The Boy Who Went to Mars, by Simon James, is a story about allowing imagination to expand and in enjoying the moment.  A little boy and his older brother say goodbye to their mom as she will be out of town overnight for work.  The younger boy runs out to his backyard where he hides under a box and states he is leaving for Mars.  When the spaceship box returns, the boy, now wearing a metal kitchen strainer, comes inside and tells his dad that he is a Martian.  The dad and older brother play along until mom returns when the boy becomes human again.  The banter that takes place between father, brother and school with this imaginative boy is clever and encouraging. The great artwork, which is James’ trademark, was done in pen and watercolor.