Here’s a book for anyone who’s ever wondered how they’re going to get to sleep – or how they’re going to get other people to sleep – and it’s a riot.
In a rambling old lighthouse lives a family – parents, teenagers, cat, dog, our narrator and Grandma. They’re an eccentric bunch with diverse tastes, and they don’t always get on. Especially at midnight, when they ought to be sleeping but they can’t.
Tactics employed to while away the time start small – needlework, online shopping – but quickly escalate to plate-juggling, prank-calling and chainsaw topiary. As for Grandma, she’s playing whist with Grandpa’s ghost, and even the pets are discovering their inner anarchist. Acid yellows, bright blues and shocking pinks leap across the pages, adding bursts of eye-popping colour to the mayhem unfolding indoors, and Shawn Harris’s retro-modern styling adds a contemporary vibe.
Written in rhyming verse, the text rattles through an increasingly wild array of nocturnal activities in an exuberant celebration of diversity and individuality. Colin Meloy is lead singer and songwriter with The Decemberists (as well as author of the bestselling Wildwood series) and there’s a strongly performative element to his text. ‘You won’t be able to stop yourself from singing this aloud,’ says Jon Scieszka, in one of the many tributes from creatives who’ve enjoyed the book.
Readers will meet unusual words and new ideas – from ‘ten-yard bolts of chintz’ and Baudelaire, to Pulitzers and a Coup d’Etat – but it’s all part of the rollercoaster fun staying awake all night, and Shawn Harris’s exuberant artwork keeps everyone on board with plenty of extra details adding depth and humour to the text. Look out for the frogs, which he ‘stayed up late’ to hide on every spread!
Younger children will enjoy the ‘what’s next?’ flood of images, while older readers will appreciate the subversive jokes and the confrontations they provoke. Recommended for reluctant readers (and jaded parents who’ve spent all night trying to settle rowdy kids….).