Chengdu Could Not, Would Not, Fall Asleep

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9781423167211: Chengdu Could Not, Would Not, Fall Asleep
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High in his tree a young panda named Chengdu lies awake, even though everyone around him is quietly sleeping. He tosses and he turns. He scrunches and he squirms, until he finally finds the perfect spot.

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PreS-K Sitting in his tree in the dark bamboo jungle, a young panda tries every trick he knows to fall asleep. "Chengdu turned/and he tossed/and he twitched/but he/could not, would not/fall asleep." Finally, he climbs up, finds his brother, plops on top of him, and dozes right off. But now, his brother is wide awake. Full-bleed spreads perfectly capture the expressive cub's frustration. Done in black and white with touches of green and gray, the illustrations have the feel of night in a bamboo grove. Simple words in black print on white pages and white print on darker pages take readers' eyes on a visual journey. The size of the pages varies to show the movement. A lovely choice for toddler programs or pajama storytimes. Janene Corbin, Rosebank Elementary School, Nashville, TN SLJ"

All the pandas are sleeping peacefully, stretched out on bamboo branches, except for little Chengdu. His big round eyes look startlingly open against the black fur surrounding them, and he has the despairing look of an insomniac late at night. He "scrunched / and he rolled / and he hung upside down, / but he still could not, / would not fall asleep." Saltzberg gives the book an old-fashioned look by limiting the colors to black, white, gray, and the green of the bamboo trees, catching the soft textures of a dark forest at night. He uses the pages themselves inventively, opening one downward, another horizontally. In a sequence of partial pages he shows Panda climbing up, and up, and up until he climbs right on top of his sleeping brother, where he is finally able to sleep. The gentle sight gags add humor without breaking the calming mood, making this an ideal nighttime book for the very young. susan dove lempke Horn Book"

In a twist on numerous picture books about little animals who are determined to stay awake, Chengdu the panda is trying his hardest to get to sleep. Droll illustrations accompany spare, lulling text, leading to Chengdu's success and a humorous surprise near the book's end. The cover art is an immediate draw: The small panda's oversized paws cling to a tree branch as his expressive, sleep-deprived face stares at readers, expertly matching the "could not, would not fall asleep" of the title. Initial pages establish a soporific mood, showing utterly relaxed, drowsily smudged pandas snoozing against a star-studded black sky, muted green bamboo branches the only spots of color. Large, softened white letters murmur, "It was late, and it was quiet, // and everyone in the bamboo grove was sleeping." The next double-page spread consists of white space with only two wide-awake, black-masked panda eyes and the words, "Everyone except ." Of course, the page turn leads readers back to wide-awake Chengdu, staring plaintively from his moon-washed tree branch. Varied compositions and a couple of gatefolds add to the fun for readers as poor Chengdu tosses, scrunches and climbs his way to sleep almost but, happily, not quite at the expense of his brother, Yuan. Little sleepyheads will love chanting along with the words, and no one can deny the appeal of the art. A bedtime winner. (Picture book. 1-5) Kirkus"

This very quiet picture book speaks to little ones who know the unsettling experience of being the only one awake in the night. Chengdu, a chunky young panda, cannot fall asleep, no matter how he shifts position, until he finds the perfect spot-on top of his brother. Of course, now his brother is the one who is awake! The story is told with a minimum of words and with grainy textured pen-and-ink illustrations, b&w with accents of soft green bamboo. Fold-outs extend the pictures horizontally, vertically, or in graduated layers that add variety while keeping the focus closely on the adorable insomniac panda. A third panda joins the brothers on a final wordless spread, in which all appear finally to be asleep. This is a bedtime story for the very young, simple enough for fledgling readers. Jan Aldrich Solow, Librarian, A. Scott Crossfield Elementary School, Herndon, Virginia Recommended Library Media Connection"

"It was late, and it was quiet, and everyone in the bamboo grove was sleeping." Everyone, that is, except one small, insomniac panda who just can't nod off. After much tossing and turning, Chengdu at last abandons his branch . . . perhaps he can find a more comfortable one higher up. Saltzberg depicts his wakeful mite with wide, sad eyes that go straight to the heartstrings. He enhances this moonlit episode with small twists and visual surprises, such as artfully placed gatefolds. Chengdu's slow climb ultimately results in somniferous success-for him, at least. His comfy new perch happens to be on top of his brother Yuan. A wordless closing view of three pandas snoozing in a clump adds a final note of nocturnal tranquility to this cozy bedtimer. - John Peters Booklist Online"

A small panda attempts to fall sleep in this humorous, subdued bedtime story. Chengdu is the only animal awake in his bamboo grove: "Chengdu turned and he tossed and he twitched," writes Saltzberg (A Little Bit of Oomph!), "but he could not, would not fall asleep." In one of the funniest moments, Saltzberg provides an extreme close-up of Chengdu's wide-open eyes, turning the panda's distinctive black eye markings into disembodied blobs against a field of white. Turning two graduated panels, readers follow Chengdu's climb to a higher branch where he finds "the perfect spot" for sleeping-sprawled atop his sleeping brother, who then becomes the only creature still awake. In addition to those panels, several other gatefolds appear, including one that highlights Chengdu's comical attempt to fall asleep by hanging upside-down. In keeping with the hushed tone and bedtime setting, the pages are dominated by inky nighttime blackness, interrupted only by the pandas' white fur, the luminous white branches, and pale green shoots of bamboo. Restless sleepers with their own unorthodox "perfect spots" will relate. Ages 3 5. PW"

About the Author:

Barney Saltzberg (barneysaltzberg.com) is an author/illustrator/singer/songwriter who has published close to 30 children's books. He studied art at Sonoma State College in Northern California and later took a class at Otis/Parsons in Children's Book writing and illustrating where he created his first book, It Must Have Been the Wind. He has also recorded two albums for children, Where, Oh, Where's My Underwear? and, The Soccer Mom From Outer Space. He currently resides in Los Angeles, California.

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