{book} the boy who wouldn’t go to bed


DAY 23

the boy who wouldn’t go to bed by Helen Cooper

Dial Books for Young Readers, 1997 (published in GB by Transworld, 1996).

This one didn’t stick with the much younger Natalya really long, but I had to keep it around just the same. It is pretty selfish of me to keep it, actually, because I know a couple of my nephews would enjoy it, and their parents could probably use it. …I guess I could still send it for Christmas (or buy them their own copy).

“A boy who does not want to go to bed has a series of imaginary encounters with a tiger, soldiers, the moon, and others, all of whom convince him to change his mind.”—publisher’s summary.

When told by his mother that it is bedtime, the boy yells, “NO!” and then mentions that it is still light out, because it is summer (his mother tells him). Summer bedtimes are especially difficult that way. When she reminds him a bit later (very nicely letting him play with his car a bit longer), the boy yells, “NO!” again and makes a run for it. He is in his car so with a few fun sound effects he is off and away where he has his encounters with a tiger, soldiers, a train, musicians, and the moon all of whom are putting themselves to bed. “Nighttime is for snoring, not roaring,” the tiger says to the boy who wants to stay up and play. The train replies to the boy’s request for a race with, “Nighttime is for resting, not racing.” Really, there is just no fun to be had! The soldiers are headed home to bed, the musicians play a lullaby that even puts the boy’s car to sleep. Suddenly the boy is alone in a sleeping world, at least he thinks he is alone until a figure comes “nearer and nearer.”

Bedtime is one subject I hate arguing over. While I get the firm parenting thing, I also do not mind creative alternatives that can keep one or both of us crying and/or sulking ourselves to sleep. We had story time as a part of the routine so what better solution is there than a book where they are arguing about a bedtime that follows with the child seeing the futility of staying up? Helen Cooper understands a child’s intelligence—which is very likely why Natalya would refuse to read this one at bedtime after a time or two. N didn’t have to yell “NO!” and the sweet mommy look less of a meanie and more of a wise woman by story’s end. Yeah, I love that.

the boy who wouldn’t is fun to read aloud, though I was bummed when N wanted to make the car noises instead of me. But I had to smile when she would trace “Y-A-W-N” with her finger on the last page and do an exaggerated yawn face and sound. Cooper also implements the word “trundled” which makes me happy every time. The world the boy runs away to in his car is a slumberous one and the rich hues are a bit slumberous as well. There is a lot to look at in the pretty illustrations: figures and objects familiar to bedtime rituals and the boys bedroom in particular. He really is wandering around the house in his car the whole time which was probably Natalya’s favorite realization. Everything about the illustrations and the way it reads says lets snuggle in and think seriously about sleep. We can play in the morning, the story creatures remind the boy, they are going to bed and so should he.

{images belong to Helen Cooper, above arrangement of pages found here.}

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jeremy says:

    You have been giving me so many good picture book ideas for my daughter during this “31 days”. This one makes me especially happy though. Bedtime has become a little contentious lately.

    Can’t wait for the last 8!

  2. L says:

    I’m glad…for the good ideas, not of the bedtime contention. 🙂

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