Extra! Read all about it! Little letters refuse to go to sleep.
The Sleepy Little Alphabet. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Knopf, 2009.
The Story Behind the Book
Ideas for stories come to me in many ways. A friend or an editor may offer a suggestion, or I might see or hear something in the real world that sets my story wheels spinning. Other times, my imagination does the work for me. I remember the moment exactly when a letter Z appeared on my mind's TV screen. There it was, sound asleep, with a line of little "z's" coming out of its mouth, representing a snore. Immediately I thought of an alphabet book. The big letters would be putting the little letters to sleep. As I worked on the manuscript, it seemed that the letters at the beginning of the alphabet should be saying, with their actions "I'm not sleepy," then the middle letters should be strenuously--even naughtily--refusing to go to sleep. The final letters would get sleepier and sleepier, leading up to my image of the letter Z. I threw in rhyme and alliteration just to make the writing more challenging and more fun. My editor suggested that an opening stanza would be useful. We spent a long time discussing how to spell "skitter-scatter." "Skatter" or "scatter"? What do you think?
As I was writing The Sleepy Little Alphabet I was hoping that my editor could find exactly the right illustrator, one who would make letters into living, breathing, whining, misbehaving, endearing creatures. I did not need to worry. It would be Melissa Sweet. Who else could make letters come alive in such a wacky way? Her exuberant artwork tickles the funny bones of both children and adults, and has a wealth of detail that makes everyone want to read the book again and again. No wonder she was awarded a Caldecott Honor in 2008 for her illustrations of River of Words.
From the reviews:
“In this winning alphabet-cum-bedtime book, capital-letter parents gradually tuck their lowercase children in for the night. . . Parents and children, librarians, teachers, and students will pore over this one again and again.”
—School Library Journal
“Sierra's reliably commendable verse teams with quirky illustrations from Sweet to produce an alphabet-bedtime hybrid with plenty of appeal for families. . . Capital!”
“Using humor perfectly tuned for the two- to five-year-old audience, Sierra and Sweet’s alphabet book will capture the attention of the younger end (who are beginning to learn letter shapes) as well as the older (who will pick up on the sometimes understated use of words beginning with those letters in both text and art). . . The jaunty text and subversive humor in this hybrid alphabet book/bedtime story will certainly lead to repeat readings and new discoveries.”
—Horn Book (starred review)
- Barnes and Noble
- Independent Bookstores