The Sleepy Little Alphabet: A Bedtime Story from Alphabet Town by Judy Sierra

sleepy-little-alphaLynn: Our focus group is starting to throw their weight around. Ever since we read The Sleepy Little Alphabet (Random/Knopf, June 2009) in galley several months ago, they’ve been asking if we have written about it yet. Explaining that we like to blog books closer to the publication didn’t impress them. They adored this book and the nagging was wearing me down! I had to reassemble the loose pages of the arc from their loving attention more times than I can count. Thank goodness the book has been released and I can buy a print copy, write the blog and get them off my back!

Actually I loved this book as much as the twins did. Harassed adult capital letters shepherd their lower case children toward bedtime while the children resist in familiar ways: bouncing on the beds, fencing with toothbrushes and slowly getting sleepier. Judy Sierra’s bouncy rhyming text makes a wonderful read-aloud and is filled with humor guaranteed to delight Pre-S-2nd grade readers.

t tucks in her teddy bear.

u takes off his underwear.

Melissa Sweet’s comic illustrations are a perfect pairing. The letters have googly eyes and wide mouths and each scene is accessorized with appropriate alphabetic items rewarding sharp-eyed readers. A yawning little y carries a yo-yo and q relaxes on a quilt. Naughty n is of course a favorite. A concluding two-page spread shows all the little letters tucked into bed and some of them are even asleep! The twins have been giving this book a big thumbs up for months and I agree! This clever book is a capital choice!

Cindy: For those who are newer readers to the blog, we should clarify that our focus group consists of Lynn’s two 5 3/4 year old twin grandsons, Mason and Hayden. We first introduced them to the blog in this post, and books that they really like get added to the “Twins’ Thumbs Up” category. If you haven’t seen their photo, it’s worth a quick look. They are quick to tell me that they are not 5 anymore, they are ALMOST SIX. It’s a huge difference as I remember from my own youth. I’ve long since stopped listing my age in 1/4 years.

I fell in love with this book on my first read back when the galley arrived and we’ve eagerly awaited publication to blog this one. I admired Melissa Sweet’s collage art last year in A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant (it went on to win a 2009 Caldecott Honor) and while this book has a very different look, some of the collage that I love is evident. Flowered, polka dotted, striped and plaid clothing elements yield variety to the 52 upper and lower case letters. My favorite touch, though, is the notebook paper striped clouds, bedcovers and pillows.

As Lynn notes, there are many details to observe on repeat reads and I am still finding new delights while not tiring of Sierra’s bouncy rhymes. I just noted that n is still being naughty in the final full spread when all other letters are sleeping. I also just noticed the odd shape of u’s underpants that he removes. Hilarious.

Lynn has expressed surprise on numerous occasions about our focus group’s enthusiasm for alphabet books. She doesn’t remember liking them much herself or her sons getting excited about them years ago. I’m betting that they just didn’t have access to the creative alphabet books that talented authors and illustrators such as Sierra and Sweet are producing today or they would have joined the alphabet book fan club with the same exuberance shown by The Sleepy Little Alphabet children!

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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