Candlewick Press, $14.99, ages 3-5, 32 pages, 2011. Two plump little monsters with cone-shaped horns creep and crawl, snarl and snarf their way to bedtime in this adorable picture book by the author of Caldecott Medal-winning Owl Moon. Like human children, the monsters go and go and go until their eyes just get too heavy to hold open. On the way home from school, through dinner and baths, they bounce and giggle, and when it's time to go to their caves, they wiggle and squirm, do anything they can to stay awake, only to be tricked into sleep by their own tired bodies as they sink into bed.
Frangoline and the Midnight Dream, written by Clemency Pearse, illustrated by Rebecca Elliott, Chicken House, $16.99, ages 4-8, 32 pages, 2011. Frangoline does as she is told -- except in the deepest dark of night. When all the world is sleeping tight, Frangoline puts on her velvet cape and a mischievous grin, and slips out of her bedroom window to prowl in the shadows. The moon, full overhead, sees her siren-red hair glisten in its glowing light, and is filled with fear and dread: "Little ones should be in bed!" it cries, warning Frangoline to go back inside. But Frangoline is a little minx and snaps back, "I'll do exactly as I please." But what will this precocious girl do when things begin to chase her and there's nowhere on Earth left to hide? Pearse's debut is a delicious tale about the folly of sneaking around at bedtime.
Count Dagmar!, written and illustrated by J. otto Siebold, Chronicle Books, $8.99, ages baby and up, 20 pages, 2011. Dagmar, the sugar-loving vampire from Vunce Upon a Time, invites readers to count up all of the things he needs for a spooky fun party in this sweet, lift-the-flap board book. The countdown begins with Dagmar's party place, a haunted castle behind a black cloud, and ends with ten (or is that 10 billion?) of his favorite candies, spilling out from behind a coffin. Being a vegetarian, Dagmar also needs to round up three vegetables from behind a flower pot, and of course, he's got lots of silly friends to invite, including fuzzy bats, fluttery owls and the spirits of the party, a band of chubby-cheeked ghosts.
Ten Little Beasties, written by Rebecca Emberley, illustrated by Ed Emberley, Roaring Brook Press, $12.99, ages 2-6, 32 pages, 2011. Black-and-white beasts dance their way to ten and back in this entrancing book of movements and shapes. From the granddaughter-grandfather team that brought us There Was an Old Monster! comes a frenetic, fun book of counting beasts. The book begins with a scalloped monster with floppy legs, then adds in a hovering creature with bat wings, and a snake with Chicklet teeth and an oversized eye. As the pages fill up, readers' eyes dart faster and faster, trying to keep track of where each beast has moved to. By mid book, a naughty beastie with a crocodile jaw begins to gobble everyone up until the only ones left are him and a little triangular beastie. But will this tiny guy be any match? For more fun, download Rebecca's song to the book at www.mackids.com/tenlittlebeasties#audio.