In her first children’s picture book, Sleep Like a Tiger, poet and author Mary Logue crafts a soothing bedtime story about “a little girl who didn’t want to go to sleep.” 

The parents of this “little princess” calmly and wisely respond to her classic stalling techniques. She doesn’t have to go to sleep. But she does have to put on her pajamas. And she needs to wash her face and brush her teeth.

But once in bed, the curious mind of the little girl takes over. “Does everything in the world go to sleep?” she asks.

She and her parents then discuss the diverse sleep habits of animals. From their pet cat and dog to bats and tigers, animals need sleep too.

When the little girl insists that she’s “still not sleepy,” her parents respond masterfully. “You can stay awake all night long,” they assure her.

The book then reaches a satisfying conclusion that wraps the little girl and the animals together in a cocoon of sleep.

Logue’s story is as warm and comforting as a winter blanket. She alternates simple text with bursts of poetic imagery. “Stretching her toes down under the crisp sheets, lying still as an otter floating in a stream,” she writes.
The illustrations by artist Pamela Zagarenski visually support the book’s lyrical, dreamlike quality. Combining mixed media paintings on wood with computer illustration, she creates a landscape somewhere between the realms of sleep and wake.

Zagarenski describes her style by saying, “I paint to discover a secret code which needs to be cracked.” Her code involves the repetitive use of images such as crowns, wheels and ladders. The effect provides new visual surprises even after multiple readings. Her artwork earned the book a 2013 Caldecott Honor.

Parents will easily relate to this story of a sleepless child. Behavioral insomnia of childhood is common in young children. The little girl’s bedtime refusal is a typical sign of a “limit setting” problem.

But the girl’s parents don’t give in to the temptation to make bedtime a battle. Instead they simply keep her on a routine and get her into bed.

Then they keep their calm and practice the psychological art of “paradoxical intention.” Instead of forcing her to try to sleep, they let her stay awake. They realize that sleep will naturally occur when she relaxes in bed.

Sleep Like a Tiger will prepare kids for bed while keeping parents engaged in the story. It’s an excellent addition to the bedtime book genre.