SLEEP TIGHT, MRS. MING
Volume 21 Number 6
Jeremiah and Mrs. Ming are back in Sleep Tight, Mrs. Ming, another collaboration between Sharon Jennings (author) and Mireille Levert (illustrator).
Jeremiah returns as a reluctant sleeper who calls Mrs. Ming into his room to deal with a number of problems, including a wet bed, a lost blanket, and a variety of night-time fears. Mrs. Ming assists with her usual calm acceptance. She finally settles into sleep, at which time she is wakened by a thunderstorm and turns to Jeremiah for comfort.
Jennings works with two concepts in this book. One is the ideal of a patient, consistent adult who intervenes when night fears arise. The other is the sense of power a child feels when he or she helps out. Jennings has a good command of her subject when she deals with the problems that bedevil the reluctant sleeper. She explores these in a humorous way in Jeremiah and Mrs. Ming1 and more fully in Sleep Tight.
The switch to Jeremiah as caregiver does not follow this well. The reversal, literally on the last page of the book, is too abrupt. Young listeners found the ending "weird" and were not comfortable with this turnaround. The author does her readers a disservice when she introduces a twist at the book's end, especially after articulating so well all of the anxieties of young sleepers.
Levert has chosen a sombre palette for her art in Sleep Tight. She creates a night-time atmosphere by using slate grey, maroon and green within soft, uneven borders. Jeremiah and Mrs. Ming are consistent with earlier depictions and the familiar toys are back, this time expanding and shrinking according to Jeremiah's fears. As in the previous books, Levert extends the text with her interpretation and detail, providing interest for repeat readings.
Although Sleep Tight, Mrs. Ming is visually attractive, the text does not match that of the previous books.
Jennifer Johnson works as a children's librarian in Ottawa, Ontario
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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