Sleep Tight Farm

Ahhh, October. My favorite month, wrapped in the cozy blankie of my favorite season. Crisp air, blue skies, fire-shaded leaves, harvest, apple pies. Lots to love.

One new thing I love is – surprise – a picture book, one I discovered in a Wisconsin bookstore while between presentations this past weekend at the Sheboygan Children’s Book Festival (one of the best-run festivals I’ve ever attended!). Look at this cover:


Sleep Tight Farm by Eugenie Doyle, illustrated by Becca Stadtlander (Chronicle, 2016) allows readers to follow along with a family as they button up their farm for the approaching winter. More about the story in a minute. First, endpapers. The front:


art ©Becca Stadtlander

And the back:


art ©Becca Stadtlander

Effective fall-to-winter progression, yes?

What I like about this one is that Ms. Doyle tells the tale in a rhythmic-but-straightforward, kid-friendly way, moving us from one chore to the next. Yet she sneaks in so many lovely, lyrical turns of phrase. She calls what the family is doing “putting the farm to bed.” When they shake straw over their large strawberry patch (the family has a roadside stand, as does Ms. Doyle), they “blanket them from winter’s frosty bite.” And they don’t just cover tender plants in the hoophouse, they “float sheets of white cloth over the baby greens…” It’s all so evocative, and it isn’t just because I live on a farm myself that it warmed me from the inside.

Repeated throughout is the child narrator’s refrain that bids good night to the plants, the fields, the hoophouse, the bees, etc., as each is prepared to withstand winter.

This is illustrator Becca Stadtlander’s second picture book. The first is On the Wing, by David Elliott (Candlewick, 2014), which I’m going to have to find. She is really impressive and obviously a star on the rise. I can’t wait to see what she does next. Sleep Tight Farm is set in the present day, but Stadtlander’s richly-detailed paintings have a soft, nostalgic feel that make you want to curl up beside a cozy fire and sink into them. See? I mean, that cat in the window. The eggs in the boy’s basket. A Mom wielding a hammer. Love that (and her knee pad!).


art ©Becca Stadtlander

All in all, this is a beautiful book you’ll want to share with the kiddos you love. I know I’m going to buy a few for gifts, because mine has earned a permanent place on my bookshelves.

Websites:  Author/farmer Eugenie Doyle. Illustrator Becca Stadtlander.

Wishing you a gorgeous fall, great book discoveries, and one of these beauties cooling in your kitchen. (Oh, does my house smell great right now!)

photo by Jill Esbaum

Jill Esbaum

Jill Esbaum has been picture book crazy since her 3 kids were little, and especially so after her first was published in 2004 (Stink Soup). Recent titles: Stinkbird Has a Superpower, Jack Knight's Brave Flight, Where'd My Jo Go?, Frog Boots, How to Grow a Dinosaur, Frankenbunny, If a T. Rex Crashes Your Birthday Party, Elwood Bigfoot– Wanted: Birdie Friends!, Teeny Tiny Toady, I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo!, and more. Coming in 2024: Parrotfish Has a Superpower and Bird Girl: Gene Stratton-Porter Shares Her Love of Nature with the World. She's also the author of many nonfiction books for young readers, as well as an early graphic reader series, Thunder & Cluck. Learn more at


  1. Jill, Thanks for this one. We live in a place where farmers do these very things. Love the illustrations of this one too! And, I can smell that pie over here as I sip my coffee and look out at fall’s changing landscape.

  2. Ahhhh. Those end papers are perfection.

    I’m with you on October. This month can’t be beat. 🙂

  3. I love autumn! I keep hearing about this book everywhere too, Jill. Thanks for sharing this!

  4. I agree – this is a lovely book, with such lyrical language & pastoral scenes. Great review!

  5. Thanks for sharing this beautiful work of art with us!

  6. Thank you, Jill! I have both Sleep Tight Farm and On The Wing on order now. Can’t wait to curl up with a pumpkin spice latte and read them. Wish I had your pie skills…looks delicious!!

  7. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing, Jill. And your pie looks scrumptious.

  8. Wow! I haven’t heard of this book but am dying to get my own copy. I now live in the suburbs but grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm. . . . I can’t wait to see this book.

  9. Ooh – this is the just right book for today. Thanks for sharing! (Now about that pie…)

  10. Thank you for bringing this book to our attention! I can’t wait to read it! The art details along with the story look to good to miss!

  11. I love this book, too! Fall and winter are my favorite seasons, and I just love how the story and illustrations lead from one to the next. Cozy!

  12. Thanks for the great recommendation. Fall is my favorite time of year, (especially since I retired from teaching.)

  13. Well the book looks gorgeous, and that pie looks delicious. Yum!

  14. Thank you for sharing your book discovery, Jill, while you attended the Sheboygan Children’s Book Festival. I look forward to reading SLEEP TIGHT FARM.

    • Honestly, Suzy, I was a bit panicked over the weekend. This post was sneaking up on me, and I hadn’t yet decided what to review. This one found me. Serendipity.

  15. A picture book perfect to cuddle up to on a winter’s night! Thanks for sharing!

  16. Wonderful! I can feel winter coming, and I can smell your apple pie!

    • Maybe that’s why I love October so much, Lisa. Feels like it’s holding back winter for just a little while, gifting us with perfect days before Mother Nature lowers the boom. 🙂

  17. I agree that October is one of the easier months to appreciate. Cooler weather and bountiful harvest.

  18. Happy I found out this blog. Fantastic,with a lot of great books. Love the illustrations and Hurray for October,I love it,too 🙂

  19. Lindsay Hanson Metcalf

    I know a few farm kiddos who need this book, including myself. 🙂 Love it.

  20. A visual treat and love how women are depicted on the working farm!

  21. So lovely! Can’t wait to seek this one out. Love the crisp, frosty color palette on the cover. Thanks, Jill!

  22. Well done, Jill! Beautiful book, beautiful pie!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *