Mary Logue's Sleep Like a Tiger
illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
Book review by Steve Barancik
Resistance is futile: sleep is inevitable!
Forty years ago, Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book began charming children to sleep with tales of all the world's imaginary creatures and their need to call it a day every night.
Now comes Mary Logue doing precisely the same thing, but this time with tales of real creatures.
A little girl wearing a crown (like so many of illustrator Zagarenski's figures), in the midst of play with her Raggedy Ann and toy animals, informs her parents (who wear crowns) that though it might be bedtime she really isn't sleepy.
Her parents go with that. They tell her she doesn't have to sleep, but (no doubt sensing the inevitable) they begin her on her bedtime rituals anyway. They even manage to get her into bed, where she asks,
Does everything in the world go to sleep?
(She's making this rather easy, isn't she?)
They tell her yes, citing the dog on the couch and the cat in front of the fire. But she wants to know about bats, and snails, and bears, and whales. Mom and Dad tell her not just that these animals sleep, but how. Regarding the latter,
They swim slowly around and around in a large circle in the ocean and sleep.
(It's true! Water mammals sleep by essentially turning off half their brains at a time - not so much that they can't still automatically do simple tasks like managing to surface to breathe.)
Then they tell her about the tiger, who sleeps to stay strong. (And, according to Zaragenski, wears a crown!)
And when the little girl tells her parents she's still not sleepy, they give her permission to stay awake "all night long."
Instead she folds her arms like the bat, finds the warmest spot like the cat, snuggles deep like the bear, and "like the strong tiger, [falls] fast asleep."
Illustrator Zaragenski won her 2nd Caldecott Honor for her immediately identifiable work in this book. (She won the other for Red Sings from Treetops.) As per usual, her mixed media paintings provide so much stunning visual detail that every reading will remain fresh. (And what book gets more readings than a great go-to-sleep book?)
She gives us children in nests, snippets of a famous tiger poem, a slow-moving train (perhaps meant to represent the inevitability a night-long snooze). Zagarenski illustrates as if she's been asked to illustrate the text twenty different ways, and she throws in another ten for good measure.
Webmaster's note: If you click to the Amazon listing below, you can read about Zagarenski's process and see some of her sketches.
Sleep Like a Tiger replaces Seuss's silliness with sweetness. You could hardly do better.
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