November 04, 2014

Naptime

by Iris de Moüy
Translated by Shelley Tanaka
Groundwood Books
978-1-55498-487-9
28 pp.
Ages 2-6
September, 2014

I don't often review translations of books but there are always exceptions and Naptime by French illustrator Iris de Moüy, translated by Shelley Tanaka, is one of them.

Seems the young animals of the savannah are not interested in taking their regular naps.  From the zebra to the hyena, hippo, elephant, lion, rhino and cheetah, the young of the African grasslands each have some excuse or other for why they will not be taking a nap.  The petulance of these creatures is evident in their declarations similar to those echoed by children around the world.  Caregivers have all heard:  "I'm too big"; "I'm not a baby"; "I'm busy"; "I'll take a nap when I need one"; "No way!"; and  "You can can't catch me".  Children, yes.  Naptakers, not.

But a little girl takes it upon herself to get them to sleep, one closed eye at a time.  If frustrated parents are listening, somewhere, she declares that "And that's all there is to it!" but she may just as easily be declaring it for herself, wiping her hands off for a job well done. No more grumpy little ones to deal with now.

Through the few words of each animal's insolent statements, a solid message is sent and, in just as few words, the girl takes up the challenge and wins. One, two, three, done.  Similarly, the illustrations are solid and emotive.   A limited palette of black, yellow, green, and gray with the occasional red above or below defines the heat and heart of the savannah and its occupants.  And the broad strokes of the flora and fauna, as well as the font, are powerful in their simplicity, again much like the landscape Naptime depicts. A mighty message in words and art.

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