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Thursday, July 3, 2014

chengdu could not, would not fall asleep, written and illustrated by Barney Saltzberg. Hyperion Books, Hachette. 2014. $17.99 ages 3 and up

"It was late,
and it was quiet,

and everyone in
the bamboo grove
was sleeping...


Ah, Chengdu! I totally understand your plight. I have exactly the same troubles some nights. Poor little panda...can't fall asleep. All the other pandas are asleep. No matter what he does, Chengdu can not find comfort in the darkness of the bamboo forest.

He does everything he can think of to make himself comfortable enough to give in to slumber; nothing works. He twists, turns, twitches, rolls and even hangs upside down. Poor guy! He is VERY persistent and because of that, he is able to find just the right spot. Finally, he falls asleep and all seems right in his world. For Chengdu, it is perfect; not so for his brother Yuan.

This is a perfect fare for a bedtime read with toddlers; and older children will also appreciate it. It is simply told, and clever. The illustrations are gently created to give a soft, warm feeling to the story. It's the perfect nighttime setting. Chengdu's expressions are full of charm and sure to prompt talk about the many different positions he takes to find a comfortable spot.  His eyes tell the story, from start to finish.

The gatefolds and panels add interest and will be very much appreciated by listeners. No matter how tired they are, you should be prepared to 'read it again'. You won't mind, I promise. You're sure to appreciate the little giggles that will erupt when they discover Yuan's fate on this sleepless night!

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