Have You Got My Purr? by Judy West

Kitten wakes up one morning and discovers her purr is missing. Mama tells to just wait, her purr will show up soon. However, Kitten can’t just wait, and she goes out to see which of the animals on the farm might have taken her purr.

Then follows a rather predictable sequence of visiting all the farm animals, good for practicing animal sounds with your child. A pleasant surprise is when Kitten visits Mouse, because she has to be extra careful to show Mouse that she’s hunting for her purr, not her dinner.

By the end of the day, Kitten is worn out, foot sore, and still purr-less. Owl suggests she go home to her mama, and Kitten can’t believe that Mama might have had her purr all along! Alas, it’s not so, but a bit of motherly advice and some warm, tender mama love helps Kitten discover that her purr has been with her all along.

In my opinion, the sweet, tender ending elevates Have You Got My Purr? above the usual farmyard animal stories. It leaves a warm, snuggly feeling, making this book especially suited for bedtime.  A nice book to return to frequently.

Available on Amazon

Have You Got My Purr? by Judy West, illustrated by Tim Warnes. Little Tiger Press, 2000.

Sleep, Baby, Sleep by Teri Weidner

Sleep, Baby, Sleep claims to be a “classic lullaby”. Maybe it is, but I certainly don’t recall it. Even so, this is a sweet bedtime book for the youngest kids, with cozy illustrations in gentle colors. I actually found it more difficult to read to older kids, who kept asking questions about unfamiliar vocabulary (woodbines? vale?)

I can see this becoming a good book-of-routine, one you read “every single night” just as you tuck a little one in to bed. It conveys a strong sense of security, and is well suited to a calm, slow pace.

Available on Amazon

Sleep, Baby, Sleep, illustrated by Teri Weidner. Tiger Tales, 2009.

While The World Is Sleeping by Pamela Duncan Edwards

A small child takes a fantasy flight with a giant owl to see all the animals who live their secret lives at night. It’s a simple premise, but a complex book.

First, the illustrations are well done. They’re realistic, but not quite reality, giving a good impression of a dream. The text rhymes nicely, with a repeating phrase (the title of the book, While The World Is Sleeping) at the end of each page. There’s some opportunity for dramatization, if you make a try at “wonder” but there’s not a lot of variety. The emotion is pretty much constant throughout.

Although While The World Is Sleeping is a book you can simply read straight through, there’s also wonderful opportunities for discussion. First, what in the world are all these animals doing up all night? Considering how many bedtime books portray the overnight hours as a time when everyone, everwhere sleeps, this is a refreshing (and more truthful) change. If your child is of a scientific bent, try introducing the ideas of noctural (active at night) and diurnal (active in the day). You can bring it up again on your next evening car ride or walk, relating the story to real life.

Second, there’s a good amount of rather advanced vocabulary. Journey, stag, vale, fowl, sleek, bandit, slinking, glides… although I think a younger child can enjoy the story through just the pictures and the impression of the words, an older child will get more out of it if you can explain these words. Fortunately, the pictures will give you good ways to “show” the words – “bandit” is a raccoon with a furry mask around his eyes, for example.

Overall, a good story to return to several times; each time your child is likely to understand it, and therefore enjoy it, more.

Available on Amazon

While The World Is Sleeping by Pamela Duncan Edwards, illustrated by Daniel Kirk. Orchard Books, 2010.

Time For Bed by Mem Fox

Time For Bed by Mem Fox was recommended to me by a friend when my firstborn was tiny, and it’s proven to be a great illustration of that notion that first-hand reviews are the most useful. When I picked up the book at the store, I wasn’t overly impressed, but I bought it on the strength of her word. Five years later, we’re still reading it.

One of the hardest things about bedtime for toddlers is the certain knowledge that they’re missing out on the fun everyone else must be having while they’re asleep. Time For Bed gently shows baby animals being tucked in to bed by their parents, using phrases familiar to the child. By the end of the story, the message is that the child is not the only one in the world going to sleep.

Soft, cozy illustrations and rhymes that simply invite hushed voices and cuddles, this is a short book to ease those last few minutes before lights out.

Available on Amazon

Time for Bed by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jane Dyer. Red Wagon Books, 1997.

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