Cover of Sleep, Black Bear, Sleep by Jane Yolen

Sleep, Black Bear, Sleep

Heidi and I actually wrote this as a companion book to YOU NEST HERE WITH ME which Harcourt bought speedily. But the editor didn’t want it as it seemed too close to their perennial bestseller TIME FOR BED by Mem Fox and-yes-Jane Dyer. So we sent it to Harper, to the marvelous Maria Modugno with whom I had worked for years, first at Harcourt, then Little Brown. Now she was at Harper and looking for books.

She bought it quickly, decided first to have us take out the last page which was about hibernation. Then she put Jane Dyer’s delicious daughter Brooke on as illustrator. Even though Brooke was pregnant during much of the work on the book, it was still brought out years before the NEST book from Harcourt (which at this writing still doesn’t have an illustrator yet!)

Brooke did an extraordinary job giving the animals personalities and jobs, as in the bats being Acrobats and the boxing turtle being a boxer. We love it. I call her work “Jane Dyer with a kink!” Heidi and Brooke and I have done a couple of bookstore gigs together and had a wonderful time.

What reviewers have said:

  • “In this musical whisper of a book, various animals settle down for a winter’s nap, assured that spring will wake them to reenter the warmer, more active world. Each page features a lullaby with language quirky enough to raise a smile. . . Complementing the comfort and reassurance of the text are Dyer’s cozy and humorous illustrations.. . . . Soothing, soporific, and magnetic, this is a special winter bedtime book.” –School Library Journal
  • “The rhyme scheme is as lilting as a lullaby, and Dyer’s ineffably sweet watercolor illustrations enrich this bedtime story. With winter-nights scenes always in the background, a series of animal folk is sleeping, snuggled in nests as cozy as can be. A black bear, its den under the roots of a tree, sits in a chair by the fireplace, covered by a quilt. A little frog may be asleep at the bottom of a stream, but it’s tucked into its bed, and it wears a striped muffler. . .” The book ends with a directive to the listener: “And even YOU, it’s time for sleep, / so snuggle down and burrow deep.”-BookList
  • “Sweet and warmly comforting, this is the picture book equivalent of a cup of hot cocoa.”–PW
  • “Gentle rhyming verses sing the creatures off to dreamland, while also providing at least one fact about each long, winter nap. . . .A good read-aloud for a particularly cold and frosty night.” –Kirkus
  • “This book is a wonderful bedtime story. It not only soothes and comforts but adds an educational element in the form of each animal’s sleeping spot. Highly recommended.”–Kids Book Central
  • “Most authors don’t want to be known for putting their readers to sleep, but this book is definitely the exception. Authors Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple have assembled a collection of lilting, calming, peaceful rhymes about various wild animals (and one not-so-wild child) who take a long winter’s nap. This book is very much meant to be read at bedtime or naptime, because the poems are soothing and the illustrations by Brooke Dyer are done in soft colors that won’t stimulate little eyes. Indeed, this book is so quieting that reading it made me a little sleepy. If you’ve got a sleep fighter age 2 to 5 in your home, this book is the perfect nighttime / naptime story to cuddle up with. “Sleep, Black Bear, Sleep” is a big snooze in a good way.”– The Bookworm Sez, WKBT-TV and syndicated to more than 100 publications
  • “The cold winter weather is covering the earth in a blanket of snow, and all the animals are snuggling up for their warm winter’s nap. The little frog dreams at the bottom of the stream, the black bear hibernates deep in his cave, the gopher settles down in his underground burrow, the badger drifts off in his house of sod, and many more animals find their peaceful sleep as they patiently wait for the warm weather of spring. A beautifully poetic lullaby that will comfort a child going off to snuggle in their own bed. The delicate illustrations bring to life this delightful bedtime book.”-Kids Bookshelf Newsletter