Bedtime at Bessie and Lil’s offers a delightful look at what bedtime routines are often really like. As Mama Rabbit diligently tries to read one of her favorite childhood books to her lovable yet active girls, Bessie practices headstands and Lil shows off her skipping abilities.
Sternberg’s breezily amusing text is spot-on. For instance, this exchange occurs after Mama reads a passage about tucking little bunnies in:
“I really like the word tuck,” said Bessie.
“I’d really like you to sit down,” said Mama.
“I want to say it ten times fast,” said Bessie. “Tuck, tuck, tuck, tuck, tuck, tuck―”
Poor Mama! Not only does her idyllic story time not go as planned, she frets that Bessie and Lil will wake the baby. Eventually Mama gives up and reads her treasured book to herself, and the girls decide they must go kiss the baby.
Adam Gudeon’s illustrations alternately depict the energetic bunnies’ reading session and the serene scenes in Mama Rabbit’s book, highlighting the stark contrast between the two. Gudeon’s primitive drawing style works well with his bright colors and clever artistic touches, such as the toy carrot car and carrot-shaped rocket in Bessie and Lil’s room, along with their carrot-accented headboards.
Bedtime at Bessie and Lil’s is a gentle family drama that reinforces the idea that despite the moments of chaos that naturally occur in a boisterous, loving family, in the end things often have a way of working out surprisingly well.