Bedtime for Bo by Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold, illustrated by Mari Kanstad Johnsen. Enchanted Lion, 2022. 9781592703746
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Format: Hardcover picture book
What did you like about the book? It’s time for Bo, a blond-haired and blue-eyed chatty bundle, to go to bed. Mom tries to start the process, offering a snack, a bath, and a bedtime story, but Bo always has a comeback. Much of their lovely, silly discussion has to do with animals as the child pretends to be a parrot, standing on one leg, which Mom explains birds do to keep one foot warm. Next Bo stretches his neck, pretending to be a baby giraffe. They use their bottoms as pillows, Mom replies. Next Mom pretends to be a hungry lion, chasing the little giraffe into the bedroom. Bo imagines being a bat, hanging upside down from a branch, which Mom explains keeps the bat ready to fly away. On and on the evening goes, until Bo is tucked into bed, surrounded by stuffed animals, many of which have been featured in the story. On the last page, the viewers pull back from Bo’s window and see into all the apartments in his building, each with a sleeping person and equally snoozy pet, all down for the count. Even Bo’s mom is out like a light; her head down on the kitchen table.
This oversized bedtime book has deep, saturated, jewel-tone hues filling its sketchy, elongated figures. I liked the naturalism of the settings: the pair’s messy, toy-strewn apartment, Bo naked in his bath while Mom perches on the toilet to supervise, the curious cat and dog that hover, keeping an eye on everyone. Parents and kids will readily identify with this single mom and Bo, both milking the evening routine as a way to spend time together. Comical endpapers show Bo in constant motion, almost like a time lapse, as he tumbles, stretches, and goofs his way to bed.
Anything you didn’t like about it? I occasionally found the illustrations confusing as Bo turns into the various animals. Hopefully children will understand that the bear or the walrus are still the main character. One slightly strange double-page spread at the end shows many creatures (snakes, foxes, rabbits) all sleeping underground in a honeycomb of chambers (wouldn’t happen), even a human skeleton (!) while a lightning storm rages above. The book has been translated from Norwegian and some of the lines come off as stilted, although most flow smoothly.
To whom would you recommend this book? Anyone looking for new bedtime stories, especially one featuring a small, single-parent family.
Who should buy this book? Public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: March 26, 2022