There is a subgenre of children’s book that is finely tuned to lull a child to slumber. In these books, a child or animal-child is taken through a going-to-bed routine with the hope of normalizing the activity for the child audience and soothing her into peace with falling asleep. The mother of all of these is Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. But there are plentiful lesser known gems. Here’s the collection we own: Guess How Much I Love You, The Going to Bed Book, Time for Bed, and Pajama Time!. And then there’s the parody Go the F**k to Sleep, which understands the nightly Herculean/Sisyphean task set before parents with humorous insight and clarity.
Sleep Tight, Little Bear by Britta Techkentrup, due out in August, fits perfectly into this niche subgenre. It is the start of winter in the book, and Mommy Bear and Little Bear are getting ready for hibernation. As part of their preparations, they say good night to their many woodland friends, some of whom also will hibernate, like Badger, and others who assure Little Bear that they will look after them during hibernation, like Wolf. After this part of the routine is done, Mommy Bear and Little Bear snuggle into their cozy den, and Little Bear asks a few questions of Mommy Bear, including, “Will you be next to me always?”
The illustrations are minimalist but beautiful, reminding me a little of scrapbook paper cutouts, easy for a child to recognize and engage with. The many animals interested my son, who identified “owl!” and “rabbit!” and learned “badger” and “fox”. The first part had the nice repetition that soothes the child into pre-slumber peace, while the final questioning by Little Bear to Mommy Bear reassures the child that sleep will not leave him alone or vulnerable, that his parent will be there with him.
I found it to be a sweet book and one I would recommend to keep next to the crib or child bed for the nightly routine. Bonus: It includes educational information on hibernating. So this is especially recommended for the little ones fascinated by the natural world.