Simpson’s Sheep Won’t Go to Sleep by Bruce Arant is a fun and colorful picture book. Drawing on his personal experience as a parent and a sense of humor, Arant has created an imaginative fun twist on a familiar bedtime struggle of putting young ones to sleep. His pastel illustrations also help bring Simpson’s farm to life.
“I need a drink.” “I want a snack.” “I have to go!” Every last one of these laments are excuses we’ve all heard one time or another. They’re also all complaints that Farmer Simpson is plagued with on a nightly basis. The difference is Farmer Simpson isn’t trying to put kids to bed. Instead he’s trying to put pigs, cows, ducks, hens, and sheep to bed. All of whom are being cooperative except for the sheep. The latter have even invented a few new excuses such as: “The ground is too hard.” “The grass is wet.” “The sky is too dark.” “The moon is too bright.” Maybe we should be glad that we aren’t dealing with sheep!
Fortunately, after weeks of little rest, the more than a little distressed farmer comes up with a solution! While it seems like a sensible one, it also feels a little quick. If room allowed, it might have helped build up the suspense if Arant had shown readers a few of the ways in which Farmer Simpson tried to get his sheep to fall asleep. Instead while on a birthday shopping trip, Farmer Simpson spies other presents. Even if the solution feels a little simple, it works well enough because of the sweet effect Farmer Simpson’s present has on his sheep. Their eyes droop and they can’t find “one poor excuse to stay awake”.
Combined with soft pastel drawings that are both silly and soothing, Simpson’s Sheep Won’t Go to Sleep makes a perfect read at bedtime. Every page is clutter-free, with all the emphasis landing on the weary Farmer Simpson and his sleep-resistant flock, the latter of which just might make you want to have your own sheep. Sure, they might keep you up at night for a time, but their expressive eyes and hilarious antics would make the loss of sleep worth it. Besides, one isn’t without hope. After all, Farmer Simpson has revealed the secret to getting sheep to sleep. Oh, and I have to tell you, sleeping sheep are absolutely adorable precious! I also love the way the pastels help reveal the texture of the paper beneath the illustrations.
Simpson’s Sheep Won’t Go to Sleep is a pleasant discovery for me of a picture book by a local author. Parents will sympathize with Farmer Simpson, while children will totally understand where the sheep are coming from. A win-win for all that is bound to become part of a family’s “read-at-night” collection.
Reprinted from Allison’s Book Bag. This article is original in content and not to be reproduced without permission. Copyright 2014.