Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site

Melissa Wiley recently blogged about this book and I just knew I’d have to get it because, like Lissa, I have a truck-crazy two year-old boy. But it’s not just Ben who has been asking for this book to be read since we brought it home from the library. The girls are just as crazy about it as Ben is.

One night recently after donning her pajamas Bella put her dirty clothes on her back and pretended to be a dump truck as she carried them to the laundry room. Soon she had recruited Sophie and Ben and they were all cleaning up the living room, pretending to be dump trucks and bulldozers and excavators. All with no prompting from either me or Dom. It was a minor miracle.

This has become our new go-to trick for nights when the tired children balk at cleaning up their toys at the end of the day. It’‘s not infallible; but it has worked on a few different occasions. There are few things that make me happier than watching a little crew of children using their imaginations to help them perform an unwelcome chore.

I suppose our kids have had a long love affair with construction equipment. I recall that both Bella and Sophie were captivated by the construction equipment when they replaced the water mains in front of our house two years ago. At that time I went to the library looking for books to teach us the names of all the big trucks we saw. They gobbled those books up and everything I’ve found since. But I’ve never found anything that really charmed my eyes and ears among all those boring factual books. (Although The Lot At the End of My Block has won the hearts of my crew, I get a bit tired of all the repetition.)

In any case Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site is a perfect bedtime story for children who love construction equipment. There is the sweet rhyming text that falls into the perfect rhythm as each truck goes through its paces and then settles in for the night. And then there are the simply dreamy pictures, that give each truck a lot of character. They are dynamic and yet also soft and dreamy. (My favorite is the crane who goes to sleep with a teddy bear and a star hung from the end of his hook.)

Yes this one is definitely a winner. Shhh…. don’t tell but I think someone may be getting it for Christmas.

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  • Well, David’s favorite is Tomie de Paola’s The Song of Francis, because he likes all the birds.  It’s one of the few books from the library he requests by name.

    But my favorite is The Holy Twins by Kathleen Norris (and illustrated by de Paola) because while the story is primarily about Saint Benedict, Saint Scholastica is still in every illustration.  And the portrayal of their sibling relationship is just delightful.  It is wordier than other picture books though.  I’m amazed David sits through it so nicely when he just loses interest in Cars and Trucks and Things that Go at 1/3 of the way through.

  • Jennifer, I will qualify my rave by saying that some of the illustrations are better than others. St Therese still looks kind of sweet and nondescript. (Why do they always do that to her? It’s not even like we don’t know what she looked like. We’ve got photos for crying out loud!) But in general this one is head and shoulders above other saints books.


    We do have several of the Little Books of Saints by Pauline. Like you say, they are great for shoving into a bag to bring along to Mass and I don’t mind if they get a bit beat up. I don’t think they’re terrible but they don’t get high praise from me either. I think the art is kind of holy card generic and the biographies are kind of generic too. They’re good enough for what they are; but my general impression of them and of most saints biographies in children’s compilations of that kind is that by themselves they don’t make the saint feel like a real person and they won’t inspire children to love a saint. They are biographical notes but not stories and little children really need a story with a beginning, middle, end and conflict in order to feel like the person is real.

    The stories in Lives and Illuminations books are about twice as long. They have more colorful anecdotes and more personal details and do include some conflict. For example, the biography of Therese of Lisieux mentions her illness and vision of the smiling statue, her failed petition to enter the Carmel early, her boldly speaking to the Pope while in Rome, etc. Enough details to tease out a sense of her personality and perhaps entice a child to find out more.


    We’ve enjoyed all of the Tomie de Paola biographies that we’ve read. We don’t own The Song of Francis but we’ve checked it out from the library a few times. We have two copies of the Holy Twins and I agree that it’s one of my favorites. (With a son named Benedict, people are bound to make sure we have it.) Like you say, it’s wordy but Ben has sat through the whole thing too.

    We also have the one on St Patrick and the one about Our Lady of Guadalupe, which of course tells the story of St Juan Diego. We may have more, somehow I can never remember all of the ones we’ve got.


  • It always makes me sad to walk into the Catholic bookstores here and see really rubbishy kids books with creepy artwork and not a bit of de Paola’s work to be seen!

  • I just wrote new copy for the first Lives and Illuminations book for the new Catholic Child catalog.  I LOVED IT!  It was absolutely gorgeous.  So glad you feel the same way smile

  • Melanie I was going to say that I liked the Little Books of Saints by Pauline. Even though they are very ordinary, they included Teresa of Avila and Blessed Mother Teresa for my youngest daughter. I checked the link for the book you reviewed those saints are listed in that book as well. I think I have yet another book to add to my wish list. The Little Book of Saints Books are nice that they are inexpensive and small so easier to take along and better if you have children who are rougher with books.