Lucy Can't Sleep


When wide-awake Lucy can't fall asleep she . . .
Climbs out of bed,
Wiggles her fingers,
Wiggles her toes,
Scratches itches,
Itches ...

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When wide-awake Lucy can't fall asleep she . . .
Climbs out of bed,
Wiggles her fingers,
Wiggles her toes,
Scratches itches,
Itches scratches,
Buttons buttons,
Blows her nose.

But Lucy still can't sleep.
Amy Schwart's gentle and reassuring story, along with her warm and comforting paintings, is sure to beguile restless children.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
She may be an insomniac, but with a combination of brisk self-sufficiency and mild mischievousness, Lucy turns lemons into lemonade. She buttons on a sweater, blows her nose, and then slides down the banister (readers may surmise that such behavior is probably frowned on during normal family hours). Lucy proceeds to raid the fridge ("Strawberry shortcake,/ Just a bite./ Chocolate pudding,/ Quiet night"), savor the sights and sounds of the backyard ("A black tree/ With black leaves,/ A black squirrel, A black dog"), and indulge in late-night dress-up ("Lipstick is nice,/ So is this hat./ Dance a dance!/ Spin around twice"). When she finally returns to bed, only the family dog is the wiser. Schwartz (Willie and Uncle Bill) employs nursery colors, cozy patterning, and lots of attention to home furnishings (adults may develop a case of throw rug and kitchen envy) to provide her heroine with the orderly, reassuring setting that emboldens her to go adventuring. Meanwhile, the pithy, impressionistic verse acts as staccato counterpoint, inviting readers inside Lucy's head as she realizes the night has given her dominion over a world not normally under her control. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)
From the Publisher

No wonder sleep is a popular topic for children’s books. Amy Schwartz’s latest begins with the matter-of-fact statement “Lucy can’t sleep.” This, despite the gingerbread cuteness of her impeccably appointed room, with its gently carved wooden bed, flowered wallpaper and stuffed lambs. Lucy, it seems, has already been instructed in the usual tricks — counting sheep, baby otters, mountain goats and the like. She has tried wriggling fingers and toes, scratching itches and itching scratches.

Next, Lucy searches for potentially “lost” stuffed animals. She glides down the staircase banister and rifles the refrigerator. Naturally, there is strawberry shortcake and chocolate pudding to be found. At one point, she wanders outdoors and surveys a vista that recalls the delectable “Babyberry Pie,” also illustrated by Schwartz. That book’s old-timey sweetness characterizes this one too. All ends well and fast asleep. There’s a difference though. In “Babyberry Pie,” the parents participated happily in tucking the baby in. But not one parent is visible in “Lucy Can’t Sleep.” If only life were this way. --New York Times (online)

"The book’s quaintness and coziness will attract children and may lull them off to sleep at last.”--Booklist

"…a lyrical investigation of the high tech world of the fifteenth century.”--BCCB

"A bedtime book with sweetly anarchic undertones (why stay in bed?), in which verse and artwork lull and soothe to soporific effect.”--Kirkus, starred

"Charming watercolor-and-ink illustrations combine with a meandering, singsong text in this lovely bedtime book.”--School Library Journal

"Schwartz (Willie and Uncle Bill) employs nursery colors, cozy patterning, and lots of attention to home furnishings…to provide her heroine with the orderly, reassuring setting that emboldens her to go adventuring.”--Publishers Weekly

“…refreshing in its child-friendly invitation to stay up just a little bit longer.” —Horn Book

Children's Literature - Mary Hynes-Berry
Getting to sleep and then staying asleep is a real problem for a whole group of young children. When tried and true strategies like counting sheep or other critters do not work, Lucy gets out of bed and starts looking for her Dolly and Bear. A thorough search of her room does not turn them up so Lucy goes downstairs to find them in a chair. She still is not sleepy though it is clearly the middle of the night, so she stops for a midnight snack and then rests for a bit outside on the porch, where her dog joins her. In a bit, she ready to go back in with Dolly, Bear and the dog to snuggle down to sleep. This book has many directional and positional words in it (over, under, inside, outside) that are clearly shown in the illustrations. It might be a good text to use to help kindergarten or first grade English language learners master these tricky terms. They might even map Lucy's nighttime wanderings. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1—Charming watercolor-and-ink illustrations combine with a meandering, singsong text in this lovely bedtime book. Lucy can't sleep, even after counting various animals, wiggling her fingers and toes, and scratching her itches. She gets out of bed, puts on a sweater, and amuses herself by looking for her misplaced toys, sliding down the banister, checking out the fridge, having a snack, sitting on the porch swing, hugging her dog, and playing dress up, until finally she is tired enough to "slip into bed, and sleep 'til dawn." Overlook the fact that most young children are not this comfortable or self-sufficient alone late at night; nor are parents likely to sleep through a child's wanderings about the house, not to mention outside. Instead, focus on the warm, cozy flow of the text, which sometimes rhymes and sometimes doesn't, is sometimes busy and other times quiet, and ultimately lures readers into a peaceful, restful place. The artwork is precious in the best sense, starring a pink-faced child whose minimal features consist simply of black dots for eyes and nose, and a red line for a mouth. Cool pastel colors keep the nighttime dark but never scary, not counting when her black dog chases a black squirrel from behind a black tree in the yard. The picture of Lucy cozied up on the porch swing under a harvest moon with a radio playing close by is enough to make anyone want to go to bed. A wonderful book to cuddle up with when it's almost time to sleep.—Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
Restless, sleepless Lucy decides to climb out of bed and wander through her hushed house.Meandering rhyme bobs up and down in this nocturnal tale, rocking readers with its subtle irregularity and soft tonality. It drifts as Lucy drifts, around her house, into closets and the fridge, onto the porch, back upstairs and, finally, into bed. Dusky blues, purples and pinks establish a muted nighttime world, one through which Lucy perambulates quite comfortably. Children who fear separation and isolation at bedtime might find eye-opening solace in Lucy's soothing ramble. Quiet solitary play (dressing-up, snacking, listening to far-off music outside, petting the family pup) suddenly seems exactly the way to find peace and slumber. Being alone in cozy darkness ain't so bad! Lucy's pleasantly blank, flat face, her wide-set dot eyes and simple u-shaped smile encourage children to identify with her, easily swapping their own experiences, their own faces, with hers. Schwartz's deceptively simple paintings and line-work deliver enough domestic details (a coiled hose, a stray doll, dirty laundry, scattered bath toys) and slightly skewed perspectives to keep readers engaged, looking into every corner of the family home (just like the nomadic Lucy). A bedtime book with sweetly anarchic undertones (why stay in bed?), in which verse and artwork lull and soothe to soporific effect. (Picture book. 1-4)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596435438
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication date: 8/7/2012
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,201,889
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.33 (w) x 9.04 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Amy Schwartz has written and illustrated many classic books for children, including Bea and Mr. Jones, a Reading Rainbow featured title, What James Likes Best, winner of the Charlotte Zolotow Award, and the Roaring Brook Press titles, A Teeny Tiny Baby, Tiny & Hercules, Starring Miss Darlene, and A Beautiful Girl. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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