Good Night (Not Really): Let’s Count FORWARD and BACKWARD

Nan Evenson
Illustrations by Karina Matkevych
Bumblebee Books (2021)
ISBN: 978-1839343339
Reviewed by Eve Panzer, The Barefoot Librarian, for Reader Views Kids (12/2021)

Yes, there are lots of picture books about counting to choose from. However, Good Night (Not Really): Let’s Count FORWARD and BACKWARD is a quirky, colorful new addition worth checking out. As the title indicates, little ones learn to count forward and backward. The text takes you to fun, unexpected places, while the illustrations are cheerful, warm, and endearing.

The minute this cover is opened, the reader enters a whimsical world. This goodnight story begins with a page covered in shooting stars and moons, and readers are introduced to the two cherub-like narrators – redheaded Lisa and dark-skinned Charlie. They are pictured cuddled in their beds with their stuffed animals (most of which appear later in the book). The title Good Night (Not Really) and the book’s first line, “This is a very SPECIAL good night book!” will pique children’s curiosity and draw them into the story.

Unique and humorous adjectives sprinkled throughout the book make reading the book fun and funny. Some notable examples include:

“It is so big and bad, it’s like 2 elephants are dancing on your bed in a clompy, stompy elephant way.” Pg. 13

“It’s so BUZZY, it’s like 4 little fairies are fluttering around the bathroom all trying to brush their tiny teeth at once.” Pg. 16

“It’s so MARCHY, it’s like 6 garden tools in the garage are having a parade.” Pg. 20

Some of the items counted in the book are so silly and whacky they will have children giggling. Standouts include – “…5 weird broccolis in the kitchen have suddenly turned into yummy green cupcakes” and “…4 little fairies are fluttering around the bathroom all trying to brush their tiny teeth at once.” And there is a twist when the counting reaches eight, giving children the opportunity to show off their math skills.

The playful pictures are entertaining. Inanimate items such as broccoli and gardening tools come alive with smiling faces. Even animals like dinosaurs and sharks that can be scary looking become friendly. The humor in the text is also evident in the drawings. For example, broccoli stalks play the violin, dance like a ballerina, knit a sweater, and parachute into the kitchen. The colors are cheerful but not overly bright, giving the book a cozy feeling.

At the end of the story, children find out why this book is not really a goodnight book. Of course, you will have to get the book if you want the answer! (Hint: The front page features moons and stars, and the end page features suns.) Have fun sharing this story with little ones.

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