Sometimes it feels almost impossible to fall asleep. So, when a little girl insists that she simply cannot sleep, her mother tells her how all of the animals in the world go to sleep. But each animal sleeps differently, as the little girl finds out: leopards sleep in trees; storks sleep standing on only one leg; fish sleep with their eyes open; bats hang upside down while they sleep; ducks sleep in large groups; and so forth. But what is the best way for children to sleep? Perhaps if the little girl tries out ...
Sometimes it feels almost impossible to fall asleep. So, when a little girl insists that she simply cannot sleep, her mother tells her how all of the animals in the world go to sleep. But each animal sleeps differently, as the little girl finds out: leopards sleep in trees; storks sleep standing on only one leg; fish sleep with their eyes open; bats hang upside down while they sleep; ducks sleep in large groups; and so forth. But what is the best way for children to sleep? Perhaps if the little girl tries out all the ways animals sleep, she’ll find the perfect way for her—which may just be her own bed, after all!
Mama, I Can’t Sleep is a delightful goodnight book from the picture-book dream team of Brigitte Raab and Manuela Olten. Original, amusing, and brimming with fun animal knowledge, this is sure to help any reluctant child—who would much rather sleep with Mom and Dad—to discover that, just like the animals, children have their own special way of falling fast asleep. This book is the perfect gift for new parents or anyone living with young children.
This collaboration from the team behind I Know Something You Don’t Know offers a gently different take on the insomnia theme, as Mama stays patient and rational right through a session with her wakeful daughter. Mama offers information about how animals sleep, taking her cue from her daughter’s stuffed leopard: “They just lie on a branch in a tree,” she says, “close their eyes, and sleep. Without a blanket, without a pillow, and without falling down.” Mama tells her daughter about storks, fish, and more, while Olten supplies pictures of adorably lumpy animals slumbering in trees or sleeping with one eye open, like ducks. The daughter tries each method of animal sleep herself: “Now my head is really heavy,” she complains, her belly button showing as she hangs from a trapeze, trying to sleep like a bat. “I can perform in a circus like this, but not sleep.” The ambiguous ending is open to multiple interpretations (the girl is shown wide awake, but she tells her mother she’s asleep), yet one thing is certain: mother, if not daughter, is definitely ready for bed. Ages 3–5. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1—When a child complains that she can't sleep, her mother's response is that all animals need sleep, and she goes on to describe how leopards sleep in trees, storks on one leg, ducks in a group, etc. After each explanation, the child tries to apply what she's heard, without success. "I tried the fish trick and kept my eyes open. But they keep closing again. And the bathtub is hard and uncomfortable." Youngsters will find some of these scenarios humorous. The refrain, "Mama, I can't sleep," falls a bit flat in comparison with repeating lines that form a rhythm in many other picture books. The story ends with Mama falling asleep, but readers are led to believe that the child will soon follow, giving the book a soothing ending. Instead of traditional punctuation for dialogue, the text changes color and font to indicate who is speaking. The problem with this technique is that the colors and fonts are not easily discernible one from the other and are therefore confusing. The inclusion of animal facts is not enough to make this bedtime-themed book stand out from the pack. What does stand out, however, are the illustrations; the paintings, many with black backgrounds that allow the other colors to shine, pop off the page.—Lora Van Marel, Orland Park Public Library, IL