Growing Bookworms Newsletter: September 21
2010 Cybils Panels

Kiss Good Night: Amy Hest

Book: Kiss Good Night
Author: Amy Hest
Illustrator: Anita Jeram
Pages: 30
Age Range: 0-3

KissGoodnight I've been reading quite a few board books to Baby Bookworm (now 5 months old). I like the board books right now because they're smaller than regular picture books, and thus easier for me to manage when I'm holding her. And I like being able to stand them up for her to look at when she's lying in her play area. Baby Bookworm's favorites tend to have pictures of either animals or babies, and the accompanying text is not much of a factor for her. My favorite of the board books so far is Kiss Good Night by Amy Hest, illustrated by Anita Jeram.

Kiss Good Night is a small book, about six inches square. It tells the story of Sam, a young bear being put to bed by his mother, in a little white house on Plum Street. Sam's mother keeps asking him if he's ready to go to sleep, and Sam keeps explaining that he's "waiting". Not in a whiny way. But in a determined way. He's waiting for something important, and he can't go to sleep without it. The title is a bit of a give-away, of course, but we can handle a lack of suspense in a 30 page board book. Personally, I find the little story sweet without being cloying.

Hest's prose has just enough repetition to be comforting, but not enough to be dull. She builds on the text from page to page, gradually reviewing the bedtime rituals from several of the previous few pages. I think that when reading aloud to newly verbal children, this will be a good memory test. And the phrasing is occasionally unconventional - enough to add interest. For example:

"Afterward, Mrs. Bear pulled one side
of the blanket way up high under
Sam's chin, and the blanket was red."

How much better than just saying "she pulled the red blanket up"? And this:

"Mrs. Bear poured milk
in two glasses and they both
drank milk and it was warm
sliding down. Afterward,
Mrs. Bear yawned. "You must
be ready now," she said."

"And it was warm sliding down" pleases me. There are also occasional rain sounds, which are fun to read aloud. I pretty much know this book by heart already, but I'm not tired of it. And isn't that pretty much the best thing one can say of a bedtime book?

Anita Jeram's illustrations are warm and cozy, just like the book. She uses lots of deep reds and golds, with visible brushstrokes to add texture and depth. The action is pretty much centered on Sam's bed, so there's not a lot of variety to the illustrations, but she manages to sneak in little tidbits, like a mouse in Sam's room, and the various positions of Sam's stuffed "friends". And the picture near the end, of Sam stretching up for another kiss, with the friends tumbling, is priceless.  

In short, I adore Kiss Good Night, and I expect to read it many more times in the coming months. Definitely a keeper!

Publisher: Candlewick
Publication Date: September 2004
Source of Book: Gift for Baby Bookworm from Lara N.

© 2010 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission on purchases (with no additional cost to you).