• Reviewed by the School Library Journal

Review: Playtime?

PreS-Gr 2–Mack opens with a single word, and it’s not playtime. “Bedtime,” says a boy in blue-striped pajamas to a wide-awake, toy-laden gorilla. As the boy leaves, his tucked-in friend opens one eye and grins. While the gorilla juggles alphabet cubes under the purple blanket in his dark room, the title—and the only other word in the book—reemerges: PLAYTIME. The boy races in, shushing and whispering, “Bedtime. Bedtime.” The exchange intensifies as the room alternates between dim and bright, with the gorilla ever more frenetic and the boy more nettled. Will there be recriminations, bitterness, even war? Luckily, a think-outside-the-box idea resolves the conflict…or does it? Children will adore the subtleties that the two-word story contains. Mack, who gave us the four-word masterpiece Good News Bad News and the two-letter story Ah Ha! (both 2010, Chronicle), pulls out all the stops in his latest illustrations. Using collage, mixed media, pencil, watercolor, and some prestidigitation, he makes the walls look like fuzzy blankets, with different patterns on every page. The two characters are expressive, kinetic, and always likable. The gorilla’s naughty, sneaky smile is a thing of beauty. The author’s brilliant decision to put a child in the parent’s role may help those enduring bedtime to empathize a little bit with those enforcing it. VERDICT Just try saving this book for evening! Both younger and older readers will be looking and laughing throughout the day.–Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY

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