Good childrens picture books weave artwork and text to create stories that children want to hear again and again. Such is the case with the childrens bedtime picture book Kiss Good Night, by Amy Hest, with illustrations by Anita Jeram. The mood of the story is set quickly in both the text and art.
The Book's Illustrations and Design
"It was a dark and stormy night on Plum Street."
The sky is pitch black, there is only a sliver of a moon, and leaves are swirling through the air. The bare branches of the tree by the bedroom window twist in the wind as the little bear looks out at the storm. Jeram's choice of colors and almost primitive style of painting are particularly effective in contrasting the storm outside with the tranquility inside the bears' little house.
Anita Jeram is really a master at painting night scenes that are dark, yet vibrant with color and life. The illustrations cover every page and incorporate the text. The large size and the style of the font, Contemporary Brush Bold, add to the book's appeal. Candlewick Press is the publisher of Kiss Good Night.
A Gentle Bedtime Story
The story is a simple one. Sam's mother is putting Sam to bed, but when she asks Sam if he is ready, he replies, "Oh, no. I'm waiting." Mrs. Bear quietly and affectionately tries several different activities to prepare Sam for bed. First, she reads him his favorite book; then, with the wind howling outside, she carefully tucks him in. As the rain begins to fall with a "Splat!" on the roof, she arranges all of Sam's stuffed toys around him. Finally, they both drink glasses of warm milk. After each of these activities, Mrs. Bear asks Sam if he is ready for bed, but he continues to reply, "Oh, no. I'm waiting." Mrs. Bear reviews everything they have done and realizes that she has forgotten to kiss Sam good night. After lots of kisses, despite the bad storm outside, Sam goes happily to sleep.
Why Children Love the Book
Both the text and the artwork paint a picture of the home as a center of love and tranquility in the midst of the storm outside. The relationship between Sam and his mother is characterized by patience and affection. The author's use of repetition and a great many "and" connectors is appropriate to the language development of the three- to six-year-old age group. This is the kind of book children enjoy hearing again and again. You will find that your children will begin to fill in some of the words and phrases for you.
I particularly like this book because of the emphasis it places on bedtime as a pleasant time, rather than a time of conflict. Like Sam's mother, many of us have contended with the child who keeps asking for one more thing before going to sleep, but in reality just wants a last burst of affection before settling down for the night.
The Author and the Illustrator
Amy Hest is a former children's librarian who also worked for years in children's publishing. She is the author of more than 30 children's books, including the popular picture book series featuring Baby Duck. Hest received a Boston Globe - Horn Book award for In the Rain with Baby Duck
). She has also been recognized for her novels, including The Private Notebook of Katie Roberts, Age 11
). Amy Hest's son, Sam, was the inspiration for Kiss Good Night
. According to the author, "When Sam was small he knew countless ways to keep me in his room at bedtime."
Anita Jeram is a native of Portsmouth, England. In addition to illustrating children's books, Jeram has also written and illustrated several books, including Bunny, My Honey (compare prices). However, she is most well known as the illustrator of the enormously popular Guess How Much I Love You (compare prices) by Sam McBratney. In Kiss Good Night, her artwork reflects her own feelings, as revealed by the following statement: "When the children and I are comfortable and safe, tucked up snug in bed, listening to the rain outside the window, everything around seems to glow with warmth."
Who wouldn't want to go to sleep feeling safe and loved?