Bajaj, Varsha. 2004. HOW
MANY KISSES DO YOU WANT TONIGHT? Ill.
by Ivan Bates. New York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN: 0316823813.
Varsha Bajaj has created
a beautiful bedtime storybook for preschool-age children. Beginning with a mother
duck and her duckling, a series of animal parents ask their children “How many kisses do you want tonight?” They
respond with increasing numbers. The duckling wants two – one on his beak
and one on his back. The kitten wants three, the butterfly wants four, and so
on until the bunny wants ten. Next a little girl tells her daddy she wants a
hundred, “One on my nose and one on each curl.” Lastly a boy wants
a million; and the final page asks, “How many kisses do YOU want tonight?”
This last question opens the opportunity for a child to make up his or her own ending.
The rhyming prose creates
a cadence which will soothe and calm young children, while the increasing numbers of kisses will encourage them to join in
and say the numbers with the reader. After a few repetitions of reading the book,
children will be able to recite much of it as it is being read aloud to them.
The illustrations are as
soothing as the diction. Done in watercolor and colored pencils, the paintings
are soft and gentle, depicting an ever-increasing nighttime glow. The effect
of the book is one of wrapping the child in a cozy book, much as they are wrapped in a warm blanket at bedtime.