“Make room for a new favorite going-to-bed-book unlike any currently on the shelf.”
As bedtime for baby approaches, a young mother slips over to the radio perched on a side table and unassumingly flips it on. The front room fills with bright colors and lively music as mom, dad, and baby begin their bedtime routine. With over the top energy and emotion, mom and dad dance together, their emotion and love clearly depicted in the dynamic poses of their dancing bodies. Baby “loves this lullaby, moves those dancing feet.” Eventually the music softens as the dancing leads to the bedroom, where mom and dad lay baby down to sleep and continue the fun in his dreams. The love these young parents share for each other and their baby, and the enjoyment they find in one another’s company, is palpable and inspiring. While their bedtime routine might be idealistically high energy for many parents tired and worn out by the time bedtime arrives, it provides a refreshing take on what the end of the day could look like, and perhaps even small aspects of the bright routine that are clearly a highlight for this family can be adopted by other families looking to bring a bit more enjoyment to bedtime. Meza’s colors and motion are vibrant and incredibly fun. Dad wears bright pink socks and a shirt with purple cuffs. Mom wears a twirling red skirt and has beautiful, vibrant hair. Music notes depicted among stripes of bright color float through the air in an original, energizing display.
How to get baby to sleep? Mami and Papi will try anything in this bouncy, loving, bilingual lullaby that gently says good night in both Spanish and English. Mami starts a salsa song. Papi keeps the beat. Baby loves this lullaby, moves those dancing feet. Baila, baby, baila! Dance, dance, dance. When nighttime falls, it’s time for baby to go to sleep. In this household, that means it’s also time for mama, papa, and baby to baila/dance, canta/sing, salta/jump, and more all the way to bedtime! This bouncy bilingual text and gorgeous, inviting illustrations gently wind down to make this a bedtime favorite no matter what language families say “good night” in!
This lullaby incorporates Spanish words. While there is a glossary of terms included at the end of the story, can your young reader, if not already a Spanish language speaker, determine the meaning of the words using other clues?
The bedtime routine in this story is very lively and full of energy and emotion. The illustrator, Erika Meza, also paints lots of feeling in the expressions of the characters. What emotions does the story make your young reader feel, and what part of the story creates those feelings?
Jen Arena is lucky to have been surrounded by great children’s books her whole life. As a teenager, she worked at a children’s-only independent bookstore in Pennsylvania, and after graduating from college, she made her way to New York City, where she found a job in children’s book publishing, working as an editor for Putnam, Golden Books, and Random House. She’s now a full-time author and freelance editor and has written many books for kids, including Besos for Baby, 100 Snowmen, Lady Liberty’s Holiday, Marta Big and Small, and Sleep Tight Snow White. Jen lives in Tampa, Florida.
Erika Meza creates utopias and detailed dreams strongly influenced by her enthusiasm for color, her fascination for animation, and the nostalgia of children’s books. Her themes are born out of the exploration of her migrant essence, her bittersweet relationship with change, and her attachment to innocence and curiosity. After living in Paris for four years, she is now in the U.K. having fun as a drawing lecturer at NTU in decorative arts. Learn more about Erika at ErikaMeza.com or on Twitter at @ErikaDraws.
For Wilder and Zora
For my salsa dancer, Mamá
“The salsa lullaby soothes as the baby’s parents tuck their tot in with a stuffed toy. While both child and doggy friend drift off to sleep, they continue following the salsa beat in their dreams. Unfortunately, Arena’s mostly English four-line verses fail to conjure salsa’s infectious beat and bobble a bit in one stanza . . .”
“Arena’s rhyming ditty matches the tempo of the visuals and interweaves Spanish words . . . Though the verse can sometimes feel forced, . . . lively pacing and rhythm alongside sweet images creates an enjoyable bedtime boogie.”