Sonderbooks Book Review of

Are You Awake?

by Sophie Blackall

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Are You Awake?

by Sophie Blackall

Review posted December 8, 2011.
Christy Ottaviano Books (Henry Holt), New York, 2011. 40 pages.

I can't decide if I would want this book if I actually still had a toddler. Would it give him ideas? Though then, when I think about it, no toddler ever needed to be given the idea of waking up his mother, so this book would simply provide an opportunity to talk about it, and maybe get across why Mommy doesn't really want to be woken up when it's still dark.

Everyone who's ever had a toddler will give a groan of recognition when they see this book. However, we'll also remember the feel of those snuggly warm toddler bodies, so the can't help but have a surge of fondness.

The pictures make this book wonderful. Sophie Blackall has toddlerhood down! First we see the word "Mom?" in the dark, then "Mom?" with bright eyes, then we see Edward with one finger pulling his Mom's eye open.

Then come all the WHY questions:

"Why aren't you awake?"
"Why are you asleep?"
"Why is it still nighttime?"
"Why hasn't the sun come up yet?"
"Why are the stars still out?"

The pages also give Mom's responses in a familiar littany of Edward tumbling around on the bed, talking to Mom, while Mom tries to go back to sleep.

I like the realistic way Mom keeps saying, on and on, that it's still nighttime, and comes up with new responses when Edward asks why.

Edward also asks if Daddy is awake. Mom hopes so, because he's flying a plane.

As the book goes on, the room very slowly gets lighter. Edward tumbles around the bed and then cuddles up close to Mom. They talk about all sorts of things and, wouldn't you know it, as the sun comes up, Mom wakes up -- and Edward falls asleep.

The final picture shows Dad (home from flying the plane) trying to sleep with a mask over his eyes, and Edward asking if he's awake. Is it wrong that I'm happy that Dad gets the treatment, too?

Like I said, I don't know if this book would actually be effective to share with a toddler. However, it's completely charming and delightful and evocative if you have only the memory of a toddler doing that, and no current threat. I think Grandmas and Grandpas and aunts and uncles might especially find this a good gift to share with a child! I certainly got a cozy smile from it.