Lately the books my editor sends me to review happen to mirror what's going on in my own life. A Big Bed for Jed arrives just as my twin daughters are about to leave their cribs behind for beds a difficult transition in the life of a youngster.
I don't remember seeing another children's book addressing this rite of passage. Writer Laurie Friedman based this tale on her son's fears and her own crafty solution. The title page sets the stage as workers unload a brand new bed from a delivery truck while a worried-looking Jed gazes out his bedroom window. Next, we see Jed blissfully enthroned in his cheery blue crib, looking ready to stay there for the rest of his life. Jed's entire family, including his mother, father, sister, aunt, uncle and grandma join in the celebration of this new bed, urging him to give it a try. Like any self-respecting toddler, Jed flat-out refuses, ignoring all their chirpy cajoling. Not until the relatives huddle to come up with a plan, pile into the bed and pretend to snooze does Jed stake his claim on the bed, proclaiming, But that's my big bed! Young children will enjoy this bedtime rumpus told in Friedman's rhyming text. Lisa Jahn-Clough's childlike pen and gouache illustrations feature bold colors and angles that convey plenty of action. Her insights into Jed's thoughts and fears are comically true to life: he envisions his big new bed as being perfect for a giant and pictures himself tumbling out, beginning a seemingly endless series of somersaults. Jahn-Clough wisely chooses to show no details of Jed's room except his family, his crib and his bed, because that's all we need to focus on.
From a parental point of view, I don't plan to read this book to my girls until well after they've made their own transitions from cribs to beds; there's no point in unnecessarily suggesting fears or problems before they actually happen. And as a mother, I had to chuckle after reading the book, because its ends as Jed finally snuggles into his new bed and his mom turns out the lights. What happened then, I wondered? Alice Cary writes from Massachusetts.