Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear?


Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear?

Martin Waddell, text

Barbara Firth, illustrations

Candlewick Press, 1988

30 pp.

Age: 2+

Interests: bears, night, bedtime, dark, fears, single parent

Little Bear can’t fall asleep because he’s afraid of the darkness. Big Bear brings a little lantern, then a bigger lantern, then the biggest lantern, but Little Bear is still afraid of the darkness outside. Big Bear takes him outside to look at the stars and the moon, and Little Bear falls asleep.

A lovely warm story about a parent trying to help a child unable to sleep. Big Bear is patient and understanding – even though he is being called away from his book – and always sees Little Bear’s point of view. Little Bear says he is afraid of the dark, but seems more restless than fearful, as he fidgets and tumbles all around the bed.

The repetition and gentle dialogue should be soothing for listeners, and the book ends with both bears cuddled up in an easy chair in front of the fire, where Big Bear falls asleep over his book.

Illustrations are marvellous, old-fashioned and warm. Little Bear in particular is wonderfully rendered, somersaulting and turning this way and that, too restless to lie still in his bed. And it’s nice to have a book that addresses night fears without actually depicting someone genuinely afraid. (I like that Little Bear is smiling throughout.) Very good for the very young.

(This title available at


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Sue Hewitt
    May 22, 2012 @ 13:28:45

    This one was always a favourite bed-time story in the Hewitt household. Your blog post has brought back some wonderful memories. 🙂


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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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