go sleep coverOur book today is a children’s title depicting an epidemic of bed-poaching. When night falls on the farm in Go Sleep in Your Own Bed by Candace Fleming and Lori Nichols (new from Penguin Random House), it finds a scene of unfolding chaos that begins when a sleepy pig crosses the barnyard headed for a blissful night of sleep:

Pig toddled to his sty,

waddley-jog.

But when he plopped down – Moooo! – Who do you think he found?

A cow has bedded down in Pig’s stall and needs to be shoo’d away. The cow drowsily makes her way to her stall and settles down … only to find an intruder of her own, a hen, who squawks loudly at being squished underneath Cow. Ordered to go find her own bed, she goes to the coop … and discovers a horse, squeezed in and comfy.

And so the progression goes, as somehow every animal on the farm managed to bed down in the wrong location. Fleming and Nichols keep the artwork very pleasantly animated, and each go sleep1animal’s weary trek to find their own bed is accompanied by the kind of sound effect – cloppety-plod, trippety-slump – that’s particularly satisfying to share with little readers.

The story reaches its climax when the farm’s dog is evicted from the sheep pen and slinks off to his kennel for the night – and encounters what is surely the higest blasphemy of bed-swapping: a cat, curled up where only dogs should be. And in typically diabolical fashion, the cat runs not to … wherever a cat actually goes, but rather straight to the farm house.

go sleep2And the ploy works. The porch light snaps on, and the farmer’s little girl rushes out saying “Oh, there you are! Come sleep in my bed!” The book ends with the cat snuggled warm and comfortable in the girl’s bed, and by that point children who perhaps have too strong a penchant for asking “Can I sleep in your bed?” every night will get the message that they’re perhaps making a nuisance of themselves. And readers of all ages will get the message the one useless parasite-animal in the story is the one who ends up with the nicest bed of all – a point already familiar to cat-owners, I suspect.

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