Author and Illustrator Laurel MacQuarrie
Publisher: Little Lamb Tales
A common problem of many parents is convincing their young ones to stay in their own beds at night. How often do we put our young tots to bed only to see them a few hours later throwing a tantrum and demanding that they sleep in the same bed as mommy and daddy? Succumbing to exhaustion and following the path of least resistance, we throw in the towel and welcome our little ones into the family bed.
How to deal with this situation and reversing the little scoundrel's behavior is the principal theme of author and illustrator Laurel MacQuarrie's Seefus Goes to Sleep where as we can see the solution may not be a pretty one, yet it does the trick.
Seefus is a slug that refuses to sleep in his own bed and wakes up screaming at two in the morning demanding that someone call 911 as he is all alone. His mother tries to convince him that at sleep time all good slugs sleep alone and don't peep. Seefus refuses to listen to reason and exclaims that he is really a good slug however if he doesn't sleep in his parent's bed he might die! He even demands that his father get out of the way and sleep on a mat.
Patiently, his mother puts up with Seefus's nightly tantrums and his rudeness. She even tries serving him dandelion milk and music, but to no avail. Eventually, Seefus's mother decides to get a friend to sleep with him and she drags into her son's bedroom Typhus the Toad. When Seefus realizes what his mom is doing, he screams, insisting that she put back the toad where she found him for fear the toad will eat him.
His mother tries to explain to Seefus that as he finds it difficult to sleep alone, she simply must make his bed Toad's new home. Seefus cries out: “That's nuts! You can't mean it! Your judgment is poor!” Unperturbed, Seefus's mother now asks him if he will sleep alone if she gets the fat toad out of his bedroom and to which he replies, “yes, yes, I will! Seefus wanted to scream but, instead he pouted as he did not want the toad in his sheets deciding that perhaps it is best if he just went off to sleep. Waking up the next morning, Seefus realizes how rude he had been to his mother and gives her a big hug promising to be a good little bug each night.
Using colorful bold images as a storytelling vehicle rather than mere decoration for text, MacQuarrie fully understands that small children are incredible pliable visual readers that love to linger over images with a time-defying fascination, something that adults tend to lose. The images in Seefus Goes to Sleep are replete with hidden clues, that tell us part of the story that the words don't tell. And more than complementing the text, these bold illustrations enlarge and widen the reference of the story line. Moreover, children would not think of Seefus or Typhus the Toad as being invented, they simply do exist in their minds.