Hey, Kids, Let’s Stay Up All Night!


Today’s post is the first in what will be an ongoing, occasional series of reviews of fabulous children’s books. If you want to inspire learning, creativity, and joy in a child, a great place to start is by reading to them. As I’m sure many of you do or did, I read to my children every night when they were growing up. A major favorite was Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Socks, which became a yelling, finger-snapping, racing-through-the-tongue-twisters adventure.

Okay, fine, it wasn’t very good for making them sleepy. But it was awfully big fun.

Even when my girls got a little “too old” to be read to, we didn’t care. We left Dr. Seuss behind, but we curled up on my giant bed and I read the Harry Potter books and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events out loud to them. “One more chapter!” the older one begged every night. (The younger one didn’t beg. She always fell asleep before I was done.)

So without further ado, let me encourage you to delight your kids–and yourself–with The Insomniacs.

“The Insomniacs weren’t always a night family…”

Written by Karina Wolf and illustrated in dusky shades of midnight blue and charcoal by The Brothers Hilts, the book tells the story of a family that moves twelve time zones away–and finds themselves unable to sleep through the night, which, on the other side of the globe, used to be their day. They try to exist “normally” in their new time zone, dragging themselves off to work and school in the mornings, even as their bodies tell them it’s time for bed. At night, they fight to fall asleep–they count sheep, they meditate, they drink warm milk–but to no avail.

One night, after a family meeting, they head out into the night, searching for the secret of sleep. What they find instead is a whole world of creatures that stay up all night and sleep all day.

“And then the Insomniacs noticed: the darkness was full of life.”

Insomniacs 2

The family is delighted. They decide to do as the bats and owls do and become nocturnal.

The book will appeal to all the little ones who find it so hard to go to bed at night; the idea of a family that wakes at dusk and goes to sleep as the sun rises will tickle their imaginations. There are some great learning opportunities built in, too, like when we meet the daughter’s new pets. Google with your kids when they ask, What’s a bandicoot? What’s a fennec? Discuss with them what they would do if they were to switch their days and nights.

The Insomniacs is a well-written, beautifully illustrated story and a springboard for exploration and creative imagining. Your kids will want to hear it again and again–and so will you.