Title: Grododo (Sleep Tight, Charlie)
Author: Michael Escoffier
Illustrator: Kris Di Giacomo
Age Group: 2-6
Synopsis: Caesar has quite the bedtime routine down but his sleep keeps getting interrupted. Will he ever be able to fall asleep?
I love a bit of dry humor and karma and Grododo is a great combination of both. It’s got a sparse sort of illustration that Di Giacomo seems to use brilliantly and that is becoming more and more popular. That combined with Escoffier’s off-beat humor about being constantly woken up (sound familiar parents?) make it a favorite of mine to read at bedtime.
Caesar’s bedtime routine is fairly simple. He puts a glass of water next to his bed, checks under his bed for monsters, snuggles his teddy, closes one eye and then the other, and falls asleep on both ears. However, this night is quickly interrupted by a bird hanging pictures up in the forest, as birds do. Caesar could politely ask the bird to desist but instead he snaps at the poor creature making me less than sympathetic when he’s woken a second and third time unintentionally, by extremely apologetic creatures. Each time after Caesar berates these poor creatures, he goes back through his bedtime routine again. But as the night wears on, his routine is amusingly altered due to sleep deprivation. Then at the end, a fabulous twist of karmic justice brings the whole story full circle.
Di Giacomo maintains a muted and dark color palette through all of this. But don’t think that makes the illustrations bleak or boring. Thanks to her clever use of patterns and background, each page is brimming with interest and Caesar and the other characters are expressive and comical in their antics (ie. the bird isn’t hanging up one picture frame on the trees outside but dozens). It’s mildly startling when you notice it but also giggle inducing. One of my favorite pieces is a garden gnome, that looks thoroughly shocked when Caesar begins yelling out the window. It’s this attention to detail that creates a fabulous subtext within the book and really elevates the story.
Bug is a pretty good sleeper but every parent knows the pain that is sleep deprivation. As my husband says, “There’s a reason it’s a torture technique.” So while I can relate to the pain Caesar is feeling with his lack of sleep, I find that the book is a perfect example of how out of control we can get when we’re tired. Of course, parents, we’ve all seen the antics of an over-tired kid and know how true this is. But this story delivers that message in a subtle and amusing way that has us all smiling by the last page. So even if that’s not how I feel at three in the morning, it’s still a good reminder.
- We always choose something off the endpapers before we start to find later in the book.
- Guess what’s making the noise before you turn the page and don’t be scared to get silly with it.
I need more!
Michael Escoiffer and Kris Di Giacomo team up for quite a few stories including: Brief Thief, Me First, Take Away the A, Have you Seen my Trumpet?, the list goes on. Escoffier is a French author whose books have been translated into tons of other languages but for more info about his work checkout his incredibly diverse website (available in multiple languages!). http://michaelescoffier.com
Kris Di Giacomo also has a very interactive sire but unless you speak French, it’s not too informative. So keep an eye out on Amazon or Google for more of her work.