Dad, I Can‘t Sleep!
Moni Port has written a fascinating book about falling asleep for children from the age of 5. It is written as a linear cascade of random but related thoughts, which sometimes lead to very serious grown-up questions – whether these are suitable for your child is for you to decide.
By Victoria Engels
Over time, a human spends 23 years sleeping. Yes, sleeping – that soothing state of calm relaxation during which our brain, the human body’s most complex organ, gives us a break. However, sometimes, we have a hard time falling asleep and slipping into the world of subconscious dreaming. Moni Port’s book addresses children from the age of five that find themselves in just that situation.
Narrated in the first-person singular Das schlaflose Buch (The Sleepless Book) reveals the thoughts of the main character, presumably the child depicted at the beginning and end of the book, who is unable to fall asleep. Each page holds new associations: From the obvious thought of not being able to go to sleep, to thinking about the largest marine animal, to contemplating a Japanese saying, to thoughts on football, poverty and marriage … the child’s thoughts go on and on until they finally boomerang back to their starting point – falling asleep. This linear cascade of random but related thoughts is accompanied by drawings, illustrations and photos.
Mum, when am I going to die?The author has chosen to integrate some very complex questions into the line of thought narrated in the book. Some of them seem almost inappropriate considering the target audience. Do 5-year-olds ask themselves when they will die or whether they will marry one day or have children?
Difficult to say. At the end of the day, it is up to parents to decide whether they want to ask their children these questions. When deciding it may be worth considering that the weight of these questions may only be conceivable for an adult.
Escaping adulthoodThe Sleepless Book confronts children and adults with complex issues, but at the same time always allows for a swift turn of the page to escape the looming seriousness of adulthood. In conclusion, the true beauty of this book is that it gives you the freedom to exit the narration at any time and to wonder off to follow your own cascade of thoughts, and to re-enter whenever you feel ready to do so.
Leipzig: Klett Kinderbuch, 2018. 112 p.