Goodnight Gorilla

Goodnight Gorilla

What is it

Goodnight Gorilla is a bedtime book about a zookeeper (and his wife) who are putting zoo animals to bed for the night.

Who is it for

Board books that are meant to be read at bedtime are normally best for younger children, 2 or 3, but Goodnight Gorilla has so many little details in the pictures that even older kids can enjoy it.

What Kids Like

The color-coding of the cages, the repetition, and identifying animals are fun. But on second reading, the kids start to notice the details. Does the elephant have a doll that looks like Babar? Does the armadillo have one that looks like Ernie from Sesame Street? Can you find the mouse’s balloon in each page? How many neighbors are in the window next door? There are so many little things to find that it becomes a game.

What Parents Like

The illustrations are charming and parents can’t help but identify with the zookeeper and his wife who have to keep putting the animals to sleep, even after they crawl back into the parents’ bed.

Scholastic has a review that helps explain the appeal.

What the Critics Think

Goodnight Gorilla gets 4.2/5 on Goodreads

92% Google users liked it.

From the book’s Amazon page:

From Publishers Weekly
“Universally understandable subject matter and a narrative conveyed almost entirely through pictures mark this as an ideal title for beginners,” said PW. Ages 2-6. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review
“In a book economical in text and simple in illustrations, the many amusing, small details, as well as the tranquil tome of the story, make this an outstanding picture book.” –The Horn Book, starred review

“The amiable cartoon characters, vibrant palette, and affectionate tone of the author’s art recall Thatcher Hurd’s cheerful illustrations. Delightful.”–Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“A clever, comforting bedtime story.” –School Library Journal, starred review

“Jaunty four-color artwork carries the story and offers more with every look.” –Booklist

Who Made it

Goodnight Gorilla was written and illustrated by Peggy Rathmann, perhaps best-known for her Caldecott Medal-winning Officer Buckle & Gloria

Trivia: Peggy Rathmann’s husband is named John Wick.

Where Can I Get it

Google has a preview and the book is available everywhere.

Steam Train, Dream Train

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What is it

Steam Train, Dream Train is a very charming, beautifully-illustrated book that tells a simple story in verse of a freight train being loaded by animals, explaining all the types of train cars along the way.

Who is it for

Kids as young as 2 (or possibly younger) who are in a “train phase” enjoy the images of the train. Slightly older kids enjoy all the details in the pictures showing the animals and cargo, kids a bit older than that enjoy the verse by Sherri Duskey Rinker and can read along. So 2 to 5 is probably ideal. It’s been a fixture on our shelf for years as each kid discovers it.

What Kids Like

Trains are always a hit for some kids. The illustrations by Tom Lichtenheld are wonderful and full of details for the kids to pick out.

What Parents Like

The theme is of a night train being loaded before bed, and is perfect bedtime reading. The final page makes you ask the question of whether the story you just read is real, or part of a dream.

The cover is attractive and passes the “Melissa and Doug test” of being appealing enough to show off on a bookshelf.

I have a fond memory of buying this book soon after it was published, on a lovely, snowy evening in December at Books of Wonder in New York. I read it to our oldest perhaps 50 times over the next few months.

What the Critics Think

4.4/5 at Barnes & Noble, 4.1/5 at Goodreads

Who Made it/History

Tom Lichtenheld drew the pictures and Sherri Duskey Rinker. They worked together on Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site in 2011 as well.

I’ll See You in the Morning

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Like all the books on this site, this is one that our kids pull off the shelf and ask to be read over and over. A difference here is that they’ve been hearing this book being read longer than they can even remember.

The theme is of comforting a child who is nervous about the dark and about going to sleep. But the real appeal to kids, as far as I can tell, is in the charming (and surreal) drawings of rabbits and foxes floating in bubbles up in the night sky.

And the appeal to parents is that it puts into words all the sweet and loving thoughts we want to express to our kids as we put them to bed.

This is one of the essential books on our board book shelf.

Originally published: 2005
Author: Mike Jolley
Illustrator: Mique Moriuchi

Geckos Make a Rainbow, Geckos Go To Bed

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We bought these two books when we lived in Hawai’i and were standard bedtime reading for our two-year-old, even after we moved to the mainland. They were precious enough to lug with us.

The drawings are fun and there is enough Hawai’ian imagery and references for the stories to feel a bit ‘exotic’ to some children, but no so much that they seem strange.

The Geckos Go To Bed story is very silly, with about 20 geckos jumping in and out of bed, knocking over the lamp, spilling milk, etc. So you may want this to be the first book of the night, not the last, because it is a bit stimulating.

Jon J. Murakami has several other books in his gecko series as well.