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  • Children's book reviews by Jennifer Sykes

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Time for Bed by Mem Fox

If ever there was a perfect bedtime book for the younger set, Time for Bed is it.  Written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Jane Dyer, this board book is almost trance-inducing.  Each page follows the same rhythm, and each page has gentle rhymes.  Read aloud, it is the spoken form of a lullaby.  I find it hard to stay awake while reading it — not because it’s boring, but because it is all too effective.

Each page has a parent animal peacefully calling its young to sleep.  The illustrations are soft watercolors in nighttime hues, and each scene shows a mother or father in a nurturing fashion.  Presumably, parents will be reading this book to their babies and toddlers in much the same way as the mama cat curls up with her kitten, making it all the more sweet.

The book is just right in length for the preschool and younger crowd.  Just enough pages and scenes to keep young children interested, but not so many that they struggle to stay engaged.  There are no characters to follow, just a familiar, repeating theme of doting parents and sleepy little ones.
Time for Bed makes an excellent baby shower or first birthday gift.  It’s a great bedtime routine builder with its content, illustrations, and rhythm; and it’s simply a very lovely read.

Chick ‘n’ Pug by Jennifer Sattler

The adorable cover of Chick ‘n’ Pug hints at the humor and sweet tone readers will find inside.  Both written and illustrated by Jennifer Sattler, this picture book is a winner whether read quietly to oneself or read aloud to a crowd of kindergartners.

Chick is a daydreaming, book-loving youngster who is underwhelmed by his average chicken life.  He wants excitement — the kind of life that he reads about in his favorite book, The Adventures of Wonder Pug.  As one might guess, Chick flies the coop on a quest for an adventure of his own.
He happens upon a pug and is sure that he’s discovered his hero, Wonder Pug.  The reader giggles at the idea that the snoozing, lazy dog pictured is a superhero, but Chick is earnest in his admiration and interprets the lazy pooch’s actions as all sorts of heroic gestures.  Silly, adventurous fun follows when Chick proclaims himself to be “Wonder” Pug’s sidekick.

With the popularity of charismatic smoosh-faced pugs, young children are sure to be excited to read Chick ‘n’ Pug.  The text delivers what the cover promises, and the illustrations lead the story.  This is not a tale with a deep moral or one that will keep children up at night.   It’s a cute, fun book with creative and charming illustrations and a relatable, youthful premise.  Children laugh as they discover Chick’s naivete and Pug’s sloth, but they are hopeful for adventure, all the same.  This is a great book to read to a crowd because of the large illustrations and a story that is both energetic and simple to voice.  Sattler’s sense of humor and good-natured sarcasm make it enjoyable for adults to read (really!), which proves to be a good thing since kids will be begging to read it again and again.

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