Hustling a young child off to bed is no small feat, as any grown-up who has tried can testify. For Mama and Daddy bunny, who have three young bunnies to wrangle into dreamland, nighttime has special challenges.
All is not well in the bunny household at bedtime, as author-illustrator Marisabina Russo indicates in the title of her new picture book, The Bunnies Are Not in Their Beds. The adults' evening repose is marred by a host of onomatopoeic disruptions Click, Clack, Click, Clack signals that the bunnies are doing something other than drifting off to sleep. This noise launches the first of many trips up the stairs. Each time, the bunny parents give the little ones an exasperated reminder to return to bed. The progression of waning patience follows, evidenced by a change from tip-toeing, to walking, to marching sternly up to their children's bedroom. Russo does a lovely job of appealing to both the adult reader and the preschool-aged listener. Upon opening the book, adults will appreciate the gently rendered neighborhood scene, with a picket fence and an array of wagons and trikes littering the yard. Subtly inserted wordplay enhances the fun, as in the board game under the bed entitled, Chutes and Lettuce. Simple, bright illustrations, done in gouache, complement the playful text. Of course, as all bedtime books should end, the characters here finally succumb to sleep, but not before a predictable outcome for the day-worn adults in the tale. In closing endpapers, Russo contrasts the opening portrayal of the bunny neighborhood with the same illustration at night, done in grayscale, as slumber becomes a reality. We hope readers of this new bedtime favorite will be equally successful in bedding down their own bunnies. Jennifer Robinson is a teacher in Baltimore.