10 Minutes till Bedtime, by Peggy Rathmann

“Bedtime routines have never been so hilarious!

At One Hoppin’ Place, the countdown to bedtime is about to begin when a family of hamsters arrives at the front door.”All aboard!” the child’s pet hamster, dressed as a tour guide, shouts, directing them to his bus. It’s off to the kitchen for a snack, to the bathroom for toothbrushing, to the bedroom for a story. And just as the child begins to read, the tour guide looks out the window and shouts, “More coming!” Busloads and carloads of vacationing hamsters stream through the front door, ready to enjoy the escapades as the countdown continues.

A sure-fire toddler pleaser from the creator of Good Night, Gorilla.”

This is a book for readers who enjoy finding the story, and its humor, in every detail of the illustrations. 10 Minutes till Bedtime does not have text in the traditional sense. Each page is like a full-spread comic-strip box. What the characters say is written in beside them in the picture, or in a speech bubble, just like you’d see in a comic strip. But there is SO MUCH lively, story-telling detail packed into every picture that you can almost hear them happening out loud!

One fun aspect of the book is the way the plot unfolds at child-level, right behind the backs of adults who sometimes appear in the pictures but are always oblivious to the stream of hamster antics going on all over the house. It captures the thrilling, curious, giggling fascination of a small child’s inner world. It is real and riveting to the child, but almost invisible to the adults.

I love the way Peggy Rathmann plays with levels and layers of reality in this book. Not only do we see the dichotomy between the adult narrative and the child/hamster adventure, but we also see a character from another book (the gorilla from Goodnight, Gorilla) and we see the child in this book reading 10 Minutes till Bedtime to the hamsters! It invites a cascade of imagined pictures-within-pictures – the book being read in the picture has a page like this one that shows the book being read, and the book in that book has a book in it, and so does that one…to infinity! It’s a wonderful opportunity to play with the early outlines of abstract thinking which are still in the developmental future of toddler readers.

I also love the amount of detail. The illustrations take every chance, every inch, to add action, humor, and hamster subplots galore! A book that can be so innocently hilarious to a child and still entertain an adult reading along is a good gift.

This book is available in hardback, boardbook, paperback editions on Amazon.

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