After putting four rambunctious children to bed -and again, then two once more, and now one I need to carry up because he fell asleep on the couch- I somehow felt inspired to talk about Just Go to Bed, by Mercer Mayer.
Some books hit the golden mark for me: perfect word flow, good illustrations, appeal to their audience, and great message. This picture book, published waaay back in 1983, is just such a one for me.
In fact, it’s another nostalgic work because I owned it as a child. I listened to it on audiocassette, with the *ding* to turn the page, and the occasional audio effects that went with each page’s pictures. Reading that same copy (sans cassette) as an adult, I find it even more appealing.
The book begins with Little Critter outside. He’s playing dress-up. “I’m a cowboy and I round up cows,” he says. A calm father, with the toy lasso round his person, says, “It’s time for the cowboy to come inside and get ready for bed.”
Each page spread shows yet another step and/or excuse Little Critter has to get through, with Dad’s help. Dad, meanwhile, is clearly getting less and less playful and patient.
By the end, we see poor Daddy in his chair with his newspaper, exasperatingly pointing and saying the book’s title, “Just go to bed!” Mom is opening the door to see what’s up, bearing a look of surprise but understanding -or, maybe I just project myself into her furry critter feet now that I have experience.
It’s a very simple book. I mean, it is a children’s picture book. In a few pages and with a few penciled cartoon expressions, Mayer gives us an entertaining story for both children and adults.
If you’ve ever had to wrestle a cowboy, general, race car driver, bandit, space cadet, zookeeper, and bunny through bedtime routines, this was written for you. And, it was written for your own little critter(s).
Now, I’ve got to pull one of my bunnies off the couch and hoist him up to bed. Good night.