The Bedtime Rhyme

The Bedtime Rhyme

by Walter Wangerin Jr., Benrei Huang

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a series of rhymes, Wangerin (Probity Jones and the Fear Not Angel) dispels a child's fear of the dark by teaching the lessons of God's love and presence. As the rhymes begin, a mother responds to her son's question: "How much do I love you?/ Lay down your head,/ My gingerbread,/ And listen: I'll tell you." She elaborates by telling him that if robbers should come into the room, "I'd clobber those robbers/ Until they slobbered/ And all their teeth decayed." If her son is threatened by monsters, "I'd grab my reaper,/ My vacuum sweeper,/ And suck those monsters down!" After she reassures him that she will protect him against all things, the mother then tells her son, "Here in your room/ All night while you're sleeping,/ Kinder and wiser/ And best for safekeeping/ Is God." Huang's illustrations capture the wildness of the child's imagination and provide just the right background for Wangerin's humorous rhymes. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
Although this is meant to be a literary lullaby for tots, the book seems more likely to cause nightmares than peaceful sleep. The mother in this rhyme is reassuring her toddler, much in the manner of The Runaway Bunny, that no matter what danger he is in she will always save him. The rhyme is sometimes awkward ("ears" rhymes with "boutonnieres"), and the baby is threatened by some truly evil-looking (if flatly drawn) robbers, a freefall through space, and horned, pastel-colored monsters. Mom is an astoundingly muscular woman who threatens to "Clobber the robbers, until they slobbered, and all their teeth decay." Supermom she may be, but this is not a super book for its intended preschool audience.
Children's Literature - Seth Berg
This appealing bit of verse could have been more appropriately titled "The Bedtime Prayer." Using clever rhymes, a young boy is told of his mother's and God's unflagging love. Even if robbers or monsters kidnap him, his brave mother will rescue him no matter what. Wangerin handles the meter and rhyme scheme with great skill, and causes one to admire how this poem could be new and yet ring with the classic sound of an antique nursery rhyme. It's a real pleasure to read this one aloud, and the illustrations, in colored pencil, are dazzling. Throughout, the child is reassured that mother will not let any harm come to him, and finally the concept of a paternal god is introduced as an ever-present protector. Sadly, this simplistic view of God ruins an otherwise terrific book. Why should a child believe in a real God who protects him from imaginary monsters?
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-It is difficult to determine the purpose or audience for this disturbing, bizarre book. A mother answers her son's questions about how much she loves him by describing how she would rescue him from ominous threats-robbers, monsters, and menacing stars and owls. She concludes by telling him that he is in God's "safekeeping" for "...God loves you,/even better than I." The bouncy rhythm may amuse some children but, overall, the text is filled with uneven rhyme, awkward phrasing, peculiar images, and vocabulary beyond many young children's understanding. Also, ideas of menacing figures entering a child's bedroom won't provide needed comfort, even if the child is ultimately rescued. The final message that "God loves you best of all" is a complex idea for young children who need a more concrete sense of security. The illustrations make effective use of soft colors, shading, and light to create a sense of the story; however, the images of a frightened child and shadowy villainous figures won't inspire sweet dreams. Barbara Joosse's Mama, Do You Love Me? (Chronicle, 1991), Sam McBratney's Guess How Much I Love You (Candlewick, 1995), and Margaret Wise Brown's Runaway Bunny (HarperCollins, 1942) are far better choices of literary lullabies.-Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Library, WI

Product Details

Augsburg Fortress, Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.55(w) x 10.32(h) x 0.42(d)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

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