Minfong Ho's Hush! A Thai Lullaby
illustrated by Holly Meade
Children's book review by Steve Barancik
A mother keeps things quiet so baby can sleep
I don't remember who it was. I don't even remember what it was.
It would have been a comedian, though whether I heard the joke via his standup or his sitcom, I can no longer tell you.
It was probably the mid-80s, back when indifferent parenting was still an outlandish concept - and thus funny to contemplate - rather than a national crisis.
The joker was putting his child to sleep. The child wondered aloud what Mommy and Daddy did once the children nodded off. Daddy patiently explained that as soon as the kids were unconscious, Mommy and Daddy would go each night to Disneyland.
Funny back then. Not so much now.
Hush! A Thai Lullaby delivers on the kind of comfort small children want...and deserve. A young mother puts her sleepy child to bed, then devotes herself thoroughly to shushing all the creatures in the vicinity so as not to wake him up.
Kids want to feel taken care of, protected. They want that feeling of safety when they close their eyes to sleep, and they also want to know that they're not missing anything exciting! This book offers both kinds of comforting. It says, in essence:
Even when you're asleep, you're still the center of my world.
What could be more comforting?
Illustrator Meade earned a 1997 Caldecott Honor for her efforts here. The ink and collage drawings are sweet and easy to follow, and most contain a tiny hint that even as Mom hushes all who dare fly and creep, Baby is not entirely asleep.
Author Minfong Ho comes through with the same kind of rhythm and repetition a lullaby does, making this a book most likely to make eyelids heavy.
In fact, your child will probably be asleep before Hush! A Thai Lullaby reaches its one and only punchline: once the work of a day's mothering is done and Mom finally succumbs to exhaustion...baby is wide awake and giggling.
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