Monday, July 25, 2016

"Sleep No More!" Good Night, Owl by Greg Pizzoli



It's not loud. It's not unpleasant, actually. It's not even scary. But what IS it?

Somebody at the door? Exasperated, Owl puts on his robe and shuffles to the door.


Back in bed, he wills himself to drop off.



Now the sound seems to be coming from below him. Relentlessly, Owl peers under his bed. Nothing. It must be coming from under the floor. Systematically, Owl begins to pry up the floorboards, one at a time. Still nothing.

By now Owl is more than perturbed. He lies down, but by now his ears are tuned to hear nothing but that sound.


It must be coming from the cupboard. Owl takes everything out. Nothing. His comfy bedroom is in chaos. But as soon as his head hits the pillow, he hears that sound again.


It's coming from the roof! With a wild look in his eyes, Owl grabs a sledge hammer and begins to demolish his roof Now surely he has vanquished whatever is making that sound at last!

Or has he? Owl's cozy cottage is reduced to shambles and he is one wide-awake and no wiser owl, in Greg Pizzoli's newest anti-bedtime story, Good Night Owl (Hyperion Books, 2016). With his usual puckish humor, Pizzoli's charming illustrations reveal the cause of his crazed insomniac activity--a small brown mouse, sometimes seen peeping from behind the head board or under the bed, sometimes from a facing page, always out of sight for Owl. It's a mouse who seems to want no more than a cozy place to snooze, as is revealed in the final pages as he and Owl finally say good night from their bed under the stars.

We've all had the experience of settling down in bed, only to hear that one strange noise that we just can't quite ignore. Being naturally nocturnal, owls are often chosen for the role of "night owl" in picture books, and this Owl is no exception. In fact, in his obsessive search for the source of the mysterious sound, Owl's eyes take on a comic, slightly manic look.

Kids will get a good giggle out of the mouse's stealthy appearances all over Owl's bedroom and Owl's silly measures to find him, and they will be soothed, despite themselves, by that final "Good night, Owl."

Pizzoli's soft and flat pastel illustrations, set against muted nocturnal gray-green and gray-blue backgrounds, belie the feverish activities of poor Owl while adding a comforting sleepytime mood to this story, a different take on bedtime. Greg Pizzoli is the master of wry, ironic humor for the preschool set, as evidenced in his earlier award-winning smash, The Watermelon Seed, which answers that burning childhood question, what would happen if I swallowed a watermelon seed and it grew inside me, or that other compelling question, what would happen if I told my parents to leave me alone and they actually did, as in Pizzoli's Templeton Gets His Wish (read reviews here).

Pair this one for storytime or bedtime with that other sleep-resisting owl in Jonathan Allen's I'm Not Sleepy! (Baby Owl).

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