Time for Bed, Old House by Janet Costa Bates and AG Ford

Hello, Janet Costa Bates! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read. to celebrate Time for Bed, Old House! I love, love, love reading it aloud. What ran through your heart the first time you saw AG Ford’s finished illustrations for Time for Bed, Old House?

Janet Costa Bates: Thank you, John Schu! It makes me happy that you love reading the story aloud.

I love the visual life AG brought to this story! The love and trust between Grandpop and Isaac is made clear with a glance, a smile, a touch. AG didn’t stop at Grandpop and Isaac when it came to adding personality. Just look at the expressions on Snuffles’ and Bear’s faces. He also made the house a character by showcasing all of its warmth and coziness. And can we talk about Isaac’s slippers? They absolutely slay me!

After I saw the finished illustrations, I sent a picture to AG. It was a picture of a much-loved blue chair in my parents’ house that looks just like the blue chair in Time for Bed, Old House. AG was clearly doing some creative channeling.

Scenario: Imagine a bookseller at Eight Cousins Bookstore asks you to fill out a shelftalker about Time for Bed, Old House. What do you write on the card?

Janet Costa Bates: When Isaac declares he’s not sleepy, Grandpop tells him to stay awake but that it’s time to put the house to bed. Isaac pays close attention as Grandpop explains the house’s every click, creak, and squeak. But who goes to sleep first? Is it Isaac? Grandpop? The house? Step inside this warm, welcoming, and cozy old house to find out.

Please finish the following sentence starters: 

Isaac is observant. Apprehensive about staying in a house he’s never slept in before, he shows himself in the end to be capable and confident, having learned what to do by watching Grandpop. The kids are always watching. If we live up to our best selves, they learn to find their best selves.

Picture books are like movies that you view at your own pace. It’s up to you where you’ll stop and linger. You get to decide what portions you’ll slowly savor and absorb.

John Schu, you should have asked me about my favorite part of the story! Even though he doesn’t know how to read words yet, Isaac reads a bedtime story by ‘reading’ the pictures. This part was inspired by my own granddaughter, who would do the same. Hopefully, Isaac will inspire pre-readers to begin their own literary journeys by reading the illustrations in their favorite books.

Thank you, Janet Costa Bates! 

Janet Costa Bates is the author of Seaside Dream, illustrated by Lambert Davis, which was named a Lee and Low’s New Voices Honor Book. She lives in Massachusetts, where she and her husband enjoy having their grandchildren visit for sleepovers.

AG Ford is a New York Times best-selling children’s book illustrator and recipient of two NAACP Image Awards. His previous picture books include Hello, I’m Johnny Cash by G. Neri, Goal! by Mina Javaherbin, and Desmond and the Very Mean Word by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams. A. G. Ford lives in Frisco, Texas.

Look for Time for Bed, Old House on September 28, 2021. 


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