|Image from IndieBound.com|
It’s bedtime for a little Thai baby. It’s quiet when his mother lays him in the hammock to sleep, but soon she hears, “Wee-wee, Wee-wee.” It’s a mosquito buzzing! The mother hurries to shush the insect so that her baby can sleep. The mosquito flies away, but the night isn’t quiet for long. A lizard comes a peeping, “Tuk-Ghaa, Tuk-Ghaa,” a glossy white duck comes a beeping, “Ghap-ghap, Ghap-ghap,” as well as the noises made by a black cat, a muddy fat pig, a gray mouse, a green frog, a loose-limbed monkey, a water buffalo, and even an elephant! Each time an animal appears the mother rushes to silence the noise, “Hush!” She is so busy keeping everyone quiet that she doesn’t notice her baby isn’t taking sleeping at all! He’s exploring the house! When at last it is quiet, the mother dozes, “There is no noise now, there is no sound. / Only Baby’s wide awake, / his eyes bright and round.”
The repetition in the text of this Caldecott Honor Book makes this a wonderful story to share with babies and toddlers. Each time the mother hears an animal she responds in the same fashion. Ho uses a different onomatopoeia for each animal, but they are not the usual sounds found in American children’s books, (Moo, Quack, Woof, Meow, etc.). It’s good for children to know that animals can make a variety of sounds. The cut paper collage and ink illustrations provide variety and visual humor. A vibrant palate of bright oranges, jungle greens, and dusty browns are utilized throughout the book. Meade’s illustrations feature many cultural markers that ground this book in the culture of Thailand. For instance, the clothing is culturally appropriate, the baby sleeps in a hammock, rather than a bed, and the farm includes a rice barn indicating the crop that the family grows.
Use this book as part of a storytime that features lullabies from around the world. Try pairing this book with rhymes and songs from Jane Yolen’s collection, Sleep Rhymes Around the World or Hush, Baby, Hush!:Lullabies from Around the World. Follow up with some sleep-themed rhymes and finger plays, such as All My Fingers Go to Sleep, Golden Slumbers (You might recognize it as the chorus from the Beatles song) or Are You Sleepy?
Print and laminate pictures or make felt pieces for each of the animals in the story. As each animal appears place it on the board. At the end of the story go back through all the animals and have kids help you remember the noise that each animal made in the story.
If you are using this with preschool or kindergarten kids bring out a world map or globe and show them where Thailand is located. Ask the kids why they think the house and the rice barn are up on stilts. Bring in non-fiction books about the geography and culture. Check out the kid-friendly webpages on Thailand published by National Geographic Kids and TIME for Kids.