In the Night Kitchen—always a favorite of mine back when I was around his age, too—has become a nightly event before bedtime, along with another similarly magical book that came out last year: Franklin's Big Dreams, by David Teague, with illustrations by Boris Kulikov.
It's about a young boy who, upon going to bed one night, is confronted with a construction crew (shades of the opening of Time Bandits, though with more purely benign results). He's understandably surprised, but the workmen ignore him and proceed with their work laying tracks; when they finish, a train roars through the room. After it passes, the crew disassembles the track and our hero is left to dream of trains. The next week, it happens again, this time with a runway and a plane, and the following week it's a canal and a cruise ship. Each time, Franklin notices familiar figures on the various vehicles that he can't quite make out, including one very familiar one. Finally he gleans what's happening and is able to use the mysterious occurrences to go somewhere he's always dreamed of going.
Teague's text and Kulikov's suitably dreamy art work together marvelously. The words are as simple and matter-of-fact as dreams usually are in tone (that feeling that even when nothing makes any sense, everything is also somehow normal), while the illustrations are warmly dramatic and mysterious, full of possibility. There's a magic to Franklin's Big Dreams that's spot-on for this subject matter, and as with Sendak's classic, Griffin clearly finds that invigorating, asking for it to be read to him over and over again before settling in for his own evening of dreamscapes.
[Cover image courtesy of Hyperion Books.]