The Best Bed for Me by Gaia Cornwall. Candlewick Press, 2022. 9781536207156
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Format: Hardcover picture book
What did you like about the book? A chatty toddler resists their mother’s efforts to get them tucked in and instead bounces about and imagines themselves as various sleepy creatures. “I want to sleep high up in a tree like the koalas!” the animal enthusiast yells. Or in the mud, like piglets or in a burrow, like puffins, or in the ocean, like a baby whale. Mama keeps countering: “How about you float right under these blankets, my whale” followed by “My little bat, it’s time to calm our bodies down.” Gentle exasperation shows on the faces of Mama and Mommy, who’s trying to get a wiggly baby down to sleep in the other room. Finally the child agrees that the big-kid bed with the soft pillow and fluffy blanket (and filled with stuffed animal versions of all the creatures mentioned) is the best bed. The soft, watercolor illustrations are a soothing accompaniment to the text, with the child in bright red pajamas, shown frolicking alongside the imaginary animals and mimicking their habits (hanging upside down from the bed when pondering how bats sleep, for example). The animal scenes are reproduced using full page bleeds while the scenes with Mama shrink to cozy vignettes in the center of one page. I liked the matter-of-fact inclusiveness of the story (the little family has a variety of skin tones and facial features) and the lack of gender or even a name assigned to the little protagonist, giving maximum flexibility to readers.
Anything you didn’t like about it? I was brought up short by the illustration of a puffin burrow, which is drawn to look like a rabbit colony in the middle of a grassy field. A puffin burrow would be dug straight into land at the sea’s edge.
To whom would you recommend this book? Families looking for inclusive and soothing bedtime stories will appreciate this new book. The transition to the big kid bed can be fraught and this will be a unique offering to have on hand to address concerns in a pedantic-free fashion.
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: June 12, 2022