The Quickest Bedtime Story Ever!

Blame Louise Fitzgerald and Kate Hindley when your kiddos can't go to sleep, because their giggle-inducing, highly interactive picture book, The Quickest Bedtime Story Ever!, is so funny that one read-through as part of a bedtime routine may not suffice.

Five animals dry off after a bubble bath and don pajamas. Readers are quickly reassured, with an abundance of exclamation marks, that "an amazing story you'll love, share, and never forget" follows and--even better!--"it's only ten words!" Of course it isn't that simple, but with the anticipation comes joy. The animals, after earnest promises, "a very serious voice warm-up" (that's not at all serious), warnings to readers to supervise their grown-up, and various ridiculous bedtime preparations, are finally treated to their 10-word tale. While it doesn't prove the expedient story readers were initially promised, sleep still comes... for most of the animals, at least.

Debut author Fitzgerald's theatrical training shows in this fourth wall-breaking text that feels like the warm-up for an improvisational performance. Page turns bring constant delights, and absurdities include physical movement, affirmations, and verbal antics. Illustrator Hindley (The Littlest Yak) depicts the adorable, wide-eyed menagerie vigorously accomplishing typical bedtime preparations with comically varying degrees of readiness. Subtle illustrative details, including a theft of bedding and one critter who sleeps through most of the action, invite quieter and repeat engagement. For daunted caregivers, a QR code provides a free audio recording of the book.

This satirical and delightfully interactive story will likely bring joy to the bedtime routine, even if it makes bedtime a bit later. --Kit Ballenger, youth librarian, Help Your Shelf

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