Stack Overflow: Time for Bed!

Books Columns Stack Overflow

A quick Stack Overflow this week. No time to dilly-dally; need to get the kids to bed! Therefore, let’s focus on a few recent picture books about bedtime that are great for bedtime!


Orion and the Dark (Templar Books) is an absolute charm from beginning to end. The story is about a little boy (Orion) who is scared of a lot of things … but mostly the dark. As you can probably guess, he’s not a big fan of bedtime and all of the darkness that usually comes with that.

But one night, something strange happens. The Dark comes alive and creeps down into Orion’s bedroom … and it turns out not to be as scary as Orion thought. The introduction of The Dark and how he and Orion greet each other is an absolute delight. One of the pages is cut to look like The Dark’s hand so when you turn the page, The Dark shakes hands with Orion on the opposite page. (This trick is repeated toward the end of the book to even greater effect.)

The mixed media artwork and clever lettering are a feast for the eyes; writer/illustrator Emma Yarlett has outdone herself here. Most spreads are jam-packed with quirky details that are great fun for little eyes to explore.

LittleRobotPower Down, Little Robot (Henry Holt/Macmillan) is written by Anna Staniszewski and illustrated by Tim Zeltner. Books starring robots have an almost unfair advantage with me, but I think it’s safe to say this one is succeeds on its own.

The conceit here is nothing remarkably new … but it has ROBOTS! Little Robot doesn’t want to go to bed, so he does everything in his power to delay the inevitable. Mom Unit (yes, that’s the mother’s name) is not amused and keeps trying to get Little Robot into bed.

Mom Unit will brook no argument about another can of oil, just one more bedtime manual, or nightmares about error messages. She needs Little Robot to enter sleep mode.

This is an adorable little book with a clever twist from a first-time picture book author. The vocabulary (such as the terms used above, plus words like millisecond, manufactured, circuits, and stalling program) might fly over the heads of the very youngest kids, but nothing here is really beyond a simple explanation if they ask.


HootOwlHoot Owl, Master of Disguise (Candlewick Press), written by Sean Taylor and illustrated by Jean Jullien, might be my favorite book of this small bunch. The art is adorable, the main character is a total joy, and the story is a genuine pleasure.

Hoot Owl is, as the title would suggest, a master of disguise. Or so he thinks. Everywhere he looks is a tasty treat. Here’s a rabbit, there’s a lamb, over yonder is a pigeon … and is that a pizza??

Hoot Owl thinks up the cutest forms of camouflage you can imagine, which are so silly that kids are bound to be giggling all the way through this book. But for some reason, Hoot Owl’s prey keeps escaping. What’s a hungry owl to do?

The use of repetition (of both words and patterns) engages children in the story, and a delightful sense of humor keeps them engaged all the way through. I even find myself flipping through the book when the kids aren’t around. Jean Jullien’s artwork here is deceptively simple, and the whole package is just enchanting.

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