Down in the Woods At Sleepytime

Cover of: Down in the Woods at Sleepytime by Carole Lexa Schaefer

This is a book that might be easily passed over in a bookshop.  The cover is sweet but a bit bland, the illustrations inside are pretty but a bit twee, the text is well set-out but a bit short.  However this would repay an investment as it is an excellent bedtime story for the very young.

It has a simple premise: the young animals of the forest are refusing to go to bed, until wise Grandma Owl swoops by and tells them all a story.  She talks them all into bed – “baby hedgehogs are curling into tight warm balls, and toadlets settle softly in the goo glup mud” – and wishes them all sweet dreams.

There is really very little to it, which is off-putting from an adult perspective, but it works beautifully as a bedtime story.  The text is short and repetive and the natural flow of the story is calm and lilting, even when the animals are refusing to go to sleep.  Although bedtime stories in which children/animals/aliens/monsters refuse to go to sleep have always seemed rather illogical to me, here it does not even register.  After Grandma Owl tells her story the book ends quietly and calmly with ” ‘Whoo-hoooo,’ hoots wise Grandma Owl. ‘Sweet dreams.’ ”

A short, easy to read, calmly-paced bedtime story that actually ends with the words ‘sweet dreams’.  What more could you ask for? Tuck your toddler into bed and read them to sleep with this surprising little gem.

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