Everybody Sleeps (But Not Fred) by Theodore Seuss Geisel Award winner Josh Schneider is flat out superbly hilarious. Perhaps because of the nature of the beast, going to bed books can be notoriously dull, but Schneider turns this genre on its head with Fred, the thumb-headed fellow with a "to-do list you wouldn't believe" who resembles a Weeble, a wobbly toy from my childhood. Schneider alternates Fred's not-going-to-bed antics (which also prevent anyone nearby from sleeping) with fantastically fluid, rhyming couplets in which a wonderful array of animals (try to) head off to dreamland.
If I could, I'd include the complete text here, it's so hard to pick just one or two passages to share here, but I really want you to experience (and buy) Everybody Sleeps (But Not Fred) yourself. Before the story begins, we see Fred (deceptively) getting ready for bed. As the story starts, we see a pajamaed Fred with a very long list and a boatload of stuff to get done behind him. We learn that,
In the jungle, toucans snooze.
Also sloths and cockatoos.
Ignoring snoring striped hyenas,
monkeys dream they're ballerinas
Schneider's alliterative, rhyming text sets up his detail filled, kooky illustrations perfectly, especially as Fred trips through them as he gets things done. Things like practicing breaking the world shouting record, testing his horn collection, practicing karate chops and hunting the legendary Sasquatch. Sheep try to count themselves to sleep and sea creatures are rocked to sleep by the currents of the ocean, but Fred resists.
In the end, it is parents reading from a "book so boring, children soon are prone and snoring," that does the trick. Fred is finally conked out and the narrator asks that you "close the book and let Fred sleep," as the animals tiptoe off the penultimate page. The final page shows Fred, sleeping peacefully, with a yellow warning label cheekily asking you to "Close the book softly or Fred will wake up and start all over again."
More books by Josh Schneider!
Source: Review Copy
A Weebles commercial from the 1970s!