Review of Night Night Sleepytown

Night Night Sleeptown is the latest in a series of board books for toddlers by Amy Parker and Virginia Allen that includes such titles as Night Night Jungle, Night Night Train, Night Night Farm, Night Night Daddy, Night Night Mommy, Night Night Bible Stories, Night Night Blessings.

Each of these books follows a similar formula–the narrator goes around saying “Night Night” to different characters, in the case of this book to people in the eponymous town of “Sleepytown”, where the mayor of the town, a bear, brings you somewhat randomly around to different parts and people of the town–a farm, a school, a postman, a firefighter, a doctor’s office, a construction site, to tell you what they do and then to say “Night Night” and “Thank you for what you do”.

I love the concept of the “Night Night” books; it’s sometimes hard to find appropriate books for bedtime reading, as a lot of books for toddlers can be too exciting and have the unintended effect of getting the kids riled up. In the case of these books, the rhymes are soothing and the pictures are beautiful and detailed, but are of more tranquil scenes. The concept is clearly modeled after books like “Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site”.

For earlier books like “Night Night Jungle” and “Night Night Farm”, it make a lot of sense. In each of these books, night is setting in and you visit different animals as they get ready for bed. In Night Night Sleepytown, though, it seems like the author may be trying to do too much at once. On the one hand, the book is taking you through a day in the town, jumping around from a farm and sunrise, to a school, to a scene of firefighters at a bubble factory, to a construction site with a digger. On the other hand, at each point you’re somewhat incongruously saying “Night Night”. I found the name of the town a bit incongruous too–I sort of expected to go around the town as different people were getting ready for bed.

Having said this, the detailed illustrations of bears, pigs, cats, raccoons, mice, and other creatures in this little town are certainly engaging, and toddlers will likely not mind the lack of a more logical or cohesive storyline. When I read it to my toddler, I find myself focused a little less on the story and a little more on each picture as we identify little details together.

For nighttime books, I’ve found that books like God is Watching Over You or Together are much stronger than this one with their tighter narratives. But if your child is already a fan of the Night Night series, this is certainly one that they’ll appreciate.