Topsy-Turvy Bedtime
A Bedtime Book about...Bedtime!

Joan Levine's Topsy-Turvy Bedtime book
Illustrated by Tony Auth

Children's book review by Steve Barancik

Ages 4-8

Topsy-Turvy Bedtime
is the book about bedtime that I wish I had written!

If you've read my behavior books you know that they tend to feature creative parenting and "logical consequences."

(For instance, my book about demanding attention features a needy child whose parents decide to grant his wishes and let him do everything with them, thus managing to bore him out of his mind! Suddenly playing on his own is a lot more appealing.)

Topsy-Turvy Bedtime features a little girl, Arathusela, who doesn't like going to sleep and is willing to throw a decent-sized tantrum on the subject.

So one night, her mom and dad share with her how much they wish they could go to sleep. But it's Arathusela herself who gets the bright idea...

Why don't you let me put you to sleep for a change?

Mom and Dad smartly consent to the new arrangement. Then they proceed to make things just as difficult for Arathusela as she makes things for them.

To her credit, Arathusela knows the parent role down to every little detail as well.

"You may have water, juice, or milk," said Arathusela.

"I want soda," said her mother.

"There is no soda at bedtime," said Arathusela.

"But I want some," her father whined.

"I don't think you two want anything to drink. You're just overtired and carrying on."

There's even the hint that the irritation that Arathusela is feeling with her difficult parents is real, testimony to the power of letting a child feel what it is to wear another set of shoes.

Of course, once Mom and Dad have been successfully put to sleep, the house seems a very lonely place. The appeal of staying up quickly dissipates.

The ending of this bedtime book is a joyful one I won't ruin, but true to the rest of this empowering book - empowering because the little girl's creative parents give her the gift of some authority over them, and because she ends up choosing bed of her own volition.

In my experience, books that empower get read and re-read, so their message hits home again and again. Author Joan Levine doesn't tell us whether her little heroine goes to sleep more easily in the future that follows this bedtime book, but I like to think that she does.

Pulitzer Prize winning illustrator Tony Auth captures the wonder of the role reversal by depicting parents who are at least five or six times taller than their daughter yet willing to obey (for the moment) her authority.

A good behavior book is one in which the child character chooses, rather than obeys. After all, you want your child to make good choices on his/her own, rather than just because you demand it!

If bedtime issues are a problem in your home, Topsy-Turvy Bedtime may be just the answer.

Webmaster's note: If your child resists sleeping in his/her own bed, then this bedtime book might be the answer.

Read more of Steve's reviews.

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