I Dare You Not to Yawn
written by Helene Boudreau
illustrated by Serge Bloch

Helene Boudreau's I Dare You Not to Yawn
illustrated by Serge Bloch

Book review by Justine Greer

Ages 3-6

Not your average sleepy time yawn-fest

Clever, casual and legitimately funny, I Dare You Not to Yawn succeeds where traditional nighty-night books have failed.

Will it make your stubborn preschooler calm and sleepy? Maybe. Will it help your wakeful “big kid” turn off his or her busy brain and power down for the night? It will, if your child is already pretty receptive to calling it a day.

Where this book succeeds is in its determined avoidance of classic bedtime story tropes and instead providing some gently tranquilizing entertainment before bed.

Summary - I Dare You Not to Yawn

The premise is simple: avoid the infectious nature of those pesky yawns, and avoid being sent to bed earlier than you’d prefer. The narrator provides a list of prohibited actions, including

  • looking at fellow yawners
  • snuggling with your best blankie, and
  • listening to lullabies

The reader is humorously cautioned on the sneakiness of yawns: “There you are, minding your own business, building the tallest block tower in the history of the universe or dressing up the cat when suddenly…”

The poor protagonist is blindsided by a yawn, which is unfortunately noticed by Mom, who decides to bump up bedtime.

Review - I Dare You Not to Yawn

Both text and illustrations are successful in their own ways. The narration is informal and friendly, with repetition of “yawn noises” just right for little ones.

The scribbly hand-inked and digitally-coloured pictures accurately portray the bewilderment of a child being sent to bed on the strength of an ill-timed yawn. Review continues.

four illustrations from 'I Dare You Not to Yawn,' by Helene Boudreau, illustrated by Serge Bloch.

The writing is funny without causing uproarious giggles at bedtime, and the illustration is happily reminiscent of Quentin Blake’s intentionally messy style.

It is nice to come across a beddy-bye book featuring more than just baby animals drifting off with the greatest of ease. These types of non-stories anaesthetize rather than relax, eschewing creativity and relying instead on the sedative power of boredom.

There have been some truly wonderful bedtime books released in the past few years (a certain somnolent construction site comes to mind), and I Dare You Not to Yawn stands up well amidst such heavy-hitters. Overall a cheerfully soothing choice for your little one’s bedside bookshelf.

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