How often have we walked in on a toddler who’s acting out a familiar scene? She might be showing a friend how to throw a ball using the same pointers you showed her, or explaining to her doll how to share with her friends (after receiving the same advice herself). Sleepyhead by Karma Wilson, illustrated by John Segal, encourages that same kind of role-playing—a tool that helps a child process his day and, in this case, to drift off to sleep.
We see the kitten hero instructing her teddy, Sleepyhead, to brush his teeth just as we presume her own parents instructed her to do. Then we watch her anticipate Sleepyhead’s stall tactics: “We’ve hugged our hugs…. You’ve drunk your drink.” Still, Sleepyhead asks for “one more.” It’s a gentle humor that arises from recognizing one’s own behavior and being able to laugh at oneself.
At the same time, the rhyme and the nursery-hued art (in the imagined scenes of the kitten carrying a drink in a boat to Sleepyhead as he rides on the back of a swordfish, or brings a book to the teddy high atop a giraffe) are soothing enough to have a lulling effect. And because the book, first published in 2006, is now in a board book edition, you may send it off with your toddler to naptime or bedtime. It’s durable enough to sleep on, drool on or be tossed across a crib.
Don’t be surprised if, when you check in on your toddler, you hear a quiet “Sleepyhead, Sleepyhead. Now close your eyes, my Sleepyhead” wafting from the nursery.