Title: Sleep, Merel, Sleep
Author: Silke Stein
Publisher: Caper Books
Date of Publication: 7 June 2018
Falling asleep can be a tiresome process for some and Merel is trying hard to ace it. Sleep is leaning against the drawers and cannot wait for his chance to tug at the violin strings to spin a beautiful melody. But Merel is not the one who’s not willing to cooperate. Sleep knows too well how to put her to bed. Merel’s agony makes her punch the headboard and throw around her plush toys in anger. Will she put herself to sleep eventually or will Sleep come to the assistance?
While a raging girl and her insomniac habits may seem to be a cliched story, Sleep, Merel, Sleep is an innovative children’s bedtime book with a set of really dynamic characters. Peeking into her parents’ room, she finds them sleeping peacefully as does her little brother. The story describes Merel’s attempts at finding something interesting to do at night while making sure that activity puts her to sleep as well. It is a challenging idea to find out which of the tasks will be best. However, she has an important reason behind not being able to fall asleep. She is having nightmares that horrify her.
Finding an address in an old mangled telephone directory, she ventures out into the night to look for the location. Adventure begins soon after. She is escorted to what seems to be a motel and is then asked to rent room number 8. Fun gets funnier though Merel is frightened out of her wits, the reader can’t wait to learn more of what is to happen next. Strange characters meet and greet her like she’s the guest of honor. Their wait is finally over as they have the privilege of her company.
Meeting Lolippo takes the story to a whole new level as the pace catches on. Things happen quite rapidly after that. They pass by orchards, skip and jump as they start to become good friends. The characters are described well with strange features. The characters impart important life lessons as the adventures take her places that allow her to become a better person. This quirky journeying will remain with her and the readers as time passes by and the book nears its dreaded end. Merel’s agony after all is a result of feeling neglected and left out upon the arrival of a new baby at home. As Steine’s imagination runs wild, the abilities of fiction know no bounds.
At times there might seem to be resemblances in terms of the characters or incidents to Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland. However, the situations and the functions of the characters are very different. Every chapter title begins with a streak of stardust flying across the top left hand corner of the page suggesting all things magical to come. The book cover is fascinating and Steine’s creative abilities as a graphic designer are well at display. The book is easy to read, light hearted and the fun filled language makes the book an interesting read for both young and old. However, it is more suitable for children of ages 8 who can read on their own at length. From the author of Trina Bell’s Humming Summer is yet another beautiful children’s book. Who knew trying to fall asleep can take one on such amazing night time escapades?
Cute is an understatement. So cute.