#WorldKidLit Wednesday: Bedtime for Bo

There are parents and caregivers who look upon bedtime with dread. It can be a fraught time, what with perhaps recalcitrant young children who don’t always realize how nice it is to go to sleep, and adults who want nothing more than to do the same. In dreamy Norwegian import Bedtime for Bo, however, a mother and child face bedtime with whimsy, imagination, and patience.

As his mother hangs laundry to dry, towheaded young Bo is “being silly,” playing on the sofa and singing at the top of his voice. Bo’s mom announces that it’s time for bed, but he thinks it’s the perfect time to pretend he’s a parrot! He stands on one leg, and proclaims that he is already asleep, just as a parrot would do.

“So it does!” his mother says, telling him that parrots tuck their toes under their feathers so as to keep them warm.

And so it goes. Instead of rushing him along his bedtime routine, Bo’s mother engages Bo in conversation, joins him in imaginative play, and shares background knowledge with him about the animals he pretends to be, all while getting ready for bed.

Author Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold‘s text is full of dialogue, tender parent and child interaction, and lots of information about the nighttime habits of giraffes, otters, and more. I love her portrayal of Bo’s Mommy, who treats her sleepy yet energetic son like a fellow human being. She answers his many questions, and respects his autonomy even as he pretends to be a bat (standing on his head until his face turns bright red) before he finally gets into bed. She realizes that her son is not being contrary or disobedient: he is merely a child, and needs to process things differently.

The illustrations by Mari Kanstad Johnsen are marked by bold colors, curved lines, and all sorts of animals, both the real ones in Bo’s home and the ones in his imagination. Translated by Kari Dickson, this is a read aloud with joyful action in which many a child can see themselves.

This of course is a perfect book to cap off a bedtime routine. In family literacy or teacher education curricula, this book provides a wonderful example of how to develop a child’s literacy skills in daily life, modeling serve and return interactions, using descriptive language, and illustrating the importance of symbolic play. Like the best picture books, Bedtime for Bo has something for both children and adults to emulate.

Title:  Bedtime for Bo

Written by Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold

Illustrated by Mari Kanstad Johnsen

Translated from Norwegian by Kari Dickson

Enchanted Lion, 2022

Originally published as Dyrene sover 2021, Aschehoug Forlag

Awards: Society of Illustrators Original Art Show Selection, 2022. For Norwegian edition: The BRAW Amazing Bookshelf, Bologna Raggazzi Award, Bologna Children’s Book Fair, 2022; Nominee, Brage Prize, Norwegian Book Prize Foundation, 2021.

ISBN: 978-1-59270-374-6

You can purchase this book here.*

Find this book at a library.

Reviews: Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Foreword Reviews

*Book purchases made via our affiliate link may earn GLLI a small commission at no cost to you.

Klem-Marí Cajigas has been with Nashville Public Library since 2012, after more than a decade of academic training in Religious Studies and Ministry. As the Family Literacy Coordinator for Bringing Books to Life!, Nashville Public Library’s award-winning early literacy outreach program, she delivers family literacy workshops to a diverse range of local communities. In recognition of her work, she was named a 2021 Library Journal “Mover and Shaker.” Born in Puerto Rico, Klem-Marí is bilingual, bicultural, and proudly Boricua.

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