This colorful and entertaining picture book is a perfect bedtime story for all ages. I Just Want To Say Goodnight incorporates the universal story of a child procrastinating their bedtime through a multicultural lens. The bright and vibrant colors of the illustrations capture the setting in the African village beautifully, while demonstrating sentiment and emotion through the characters as well. In addition, this book is notably a Caldecott Honor winner.
The book begins with the young girl Lala greeting her father and asking about his day. The illustrations use the coloring of the sky to indicate that the sun is setting and it is almost the end of the day. When Lala’s father tells her it is time for bed, she explains that she wants to say good night to a few animals in the village. She says good night to the fish, the cat, the ants, etc.
My favorite illustration throughout the book is the double page spread where Lala is saying good night to the monkey. She kindly bends down to the little monkey’s level and offers him a flower. The illustration is set with a bright pink and purple sky, and the sun close to the horizon.
The concept of time passing, and night-time approaching, is wonderfully represented through the illustrations. As the reader delves deeper into the story, the illustrated sky goes from sunset, to dusk, and then night. Not only does the sky get darker, but the lighting and contrast in the rest of the illustration develops too. Lala becomes more of a silhouette as the sky darkens, and shadows begin to appear.
As time goes on, Lala has difficulty finding anything left to say good night too. She finally says good nigh to a rock before following her Mama into the house. Once in bed, she grabs her bed time book, in which the illustration and text both allude to the famous, and classic, bed time board book, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.
Author and Illustrator, Rachel Isadora is well-known for her wonderful children’s books in which she seamlessly incorporates playful and relatable stories in African settings and backgrounds. She truly does a remarkable job of creating books with multicultural themes that children of all ages and ethnicities can thoroughly enjoy. I absolutely loved this book, for its child-like humor and magnificent pictures, and would recommend it to any parent, family member, or caretaker that is looking for a fun and new book to read during bed time.