I'm a big fan of books by Jane Yolen. I'm more familiar with her books for older children but was happily surprised by Time for Naps. And with so many books available for children about bedtime, a book about naps is a pleasant find.
In rhyme, Time for Naps follows a little girl as she puts all of her naptime friends to bed. "Naptime, kitty, time for bed. A pillow for your furry head." "Naptime, teddy, time to sleep. Snuggle under covers deep." The repetition of the little girl telling all of her friends that it's time for naps is both soothing to listen to and visually engaging. I particularly adore the illustration below of the little girl tucking her puppet pet into bed in a drawer. Such a perfect example of something a child would actually do. There's also something about the illustrations by Hiroe Nakkata that make the scenes from this book incredibly realistic. The toys strung about the room, the heap of pillows with an off-center blanket on the bed, the hamper overflowing with clothes, the dinosaur under the bed; the glass of water. All of these details make the reader feel as though they are stepping into a well-loved room of a child instead of a picture-perfect room that many of us only see in magazines.
The best part of the book (for me) is the ending. "Everybody, shut your eyes. No more rumbles, no more sighs. Everybody naps or tries, and when we wake -- a big surprise!" (Illustration below.)
What a wonderful message for children and parents. A big surprise doesn't have to mean a new toy, candy, TV, or any other number of things. A big surprise for a child can simply be waking up to find a very special person waiting to give a great big smile, a hug, and a kiss. Parents get busy, children get fussy, but moments like the one illustrated above become the memories we hold on to forever. I think in a way this book is teaching parents as much as it is children to cherish one's family, to be kind, to be loving, to be the best daughter, son, brother, sister, mommy, or daddy that you can be.