Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean

Storyteller Books (Submitted to Book Sense)

This is an amazing book on many levels. First and foremost it is a beautifully illustrated, with soothing prose bedtime book. It is also educational. Doesn't every child, and adult too, wonder how the fishes and marine animals sleep? It is explained simply for the kids and more detailed for the adults in the Preface. There is also the fun parts in the back of the book. For Creative Minds explain more about mammals, especially Marine Mammals. The Make Your Own Marine Mammal Using Adaptations is fantastic. I highly recommend this book to anyone with children who love to be read to at bedtime. Also any child with a curious mind. I will also recommend it to teachers and librarians, especially pre-school and elementary schools. One of the most beautiful and informative children's books I have seen in a long time.

Book Talk

Winner of Mom's Choice Award for Most Outstanding Author 2005, this adorable book will soon become your child's favorite. Brightly illustrated, the story begins as a means to lull your child to sleep with pleasant memories of how marine mammals sleep. The first page pictures a young boy clad in bright red pajamas, surrounded by his collection of stuffed marine mammals. During sleep the mammals come alive and he swims with the orcas, as they glide side-by-side in their pod. Four minutes of rest then up to breathe. He nestles on shore with a sleeping harbor seal. My personal favorite is the dolphins. Did you know they sleep with one eye open? The pajama clad boy nestles on a soft water plant as he sleeps with the manatees on a sandy waterbed. He wears a life vest to keep afloat to bob up and down with the naturally buoyed walruses. Another favorite of mine is the sea otters. They wrap kelp strands around their tummies to anchor themselves in place. When it is cold they cover their little cheeks with their furry front paws.

Water Beds includes a section of additional information and activities in the back called "For Creative Minds." This section includes information about what makes an animal a mammal, and includes teaching trivia about how marine mammals adapt to their watery habitat. A craft section includes graphics for children to design their own marine mammal, encouraging them to think about how each body part helps the mammal survive. Highly recommended.
-Shirley Labusier

National Center for the Study of Children's Literature, San Diego State University - March 2006

The story's red-pajamed "Little Person" is about to go to sleep. As he drifts, he imagines the sleeping habits of marine mammals like walruses, seals, otters, and dolphins. Turns out they all have different ways of getting through the night; I found the information very interesting myself; moreover, Karwoski uses a poetic narrative voice: "Belugas float like white clouds..," or "Northern fur seals sleep in a heap.." Or this about walruses: ".they bob like buoys on the brine."

In each two-page illustration, the young human sleeper appears amid the snoozing denizens of the deep-he is snuggled up with harbor seals or floating on kelp beds with otters. McLennan's paintings are extraordinary, adding much to the rhythmic, affectionate text. Details abound, such as the many marine items in the little person's room.

I highly recommend this fine collaboration as a bedtime story book or an anytime entertainment.
- A. Allison

Armchair Interviews

Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean is an educational and interesting story for children. It answers the important, yet seldom-thought-of questions about marine mammals' sleep habits. It's actually something that as an adult, I hadn't thought about, and found fascinating.

Ten marine mammals (animals that breathe air) are introduced and their sleeping habits are discussed. Did you know that orcas whales sleep for four minutes, gliding with others in their pods, and then they must come up for air? Or that harbor seals may come up to rest on the shore and hang over into the water with only their foreheads, eyes and snouts poking out of the water? Beluga whales float in the water with their blowholes in the air. You'll want to read the book for the explanations about how the other seven marine mammals sleep in the water.

You and your children will be amazed at the ingenious ways marine mammals sleep. I don't know who was more fascinated, me or my four-year-old daughter. We both enjoyed the inviting illustrations that contributed greatly to "showing" us just how the animals breathe when sleeping. Armchair Interviews says: A fun and educational book for parents and their children.
- Alia Pranke.

ForeWord Magazine

Bedtime stories are meant to quiet the mind and relax the body, and they only enhance the experience when they are also educational. “Sleeping in the Ocean” aims both to provide a transition into dreams, as if the child is “floating on gentle waves all night long” (preface), and allow the child to think outside herself and her environment. It is common to see how people, as well as those familiar domestic animals one comes in contact with, sleep, but the question of how sea animals sleep in a world so unlike ours is addressed elegantly in Karwoski and McLennan’s book.

The story begins by addressing a “little person” tucked in a “warm, dry bed,” who is surrounded by stuffed animals in the shape of sea animals. “Have you ever wondered what it would be like to sleep in the deep, deep sea?” the book asks the main character, who though called “little person” is drawn as a young boy. Holding a stuffed animal dolphin, the boy then follows a path of sleeping sea mammals, from various whales (including Orca, Humpbacks, and Beluga) and seals (including Harbor, Elephant, and Northern Fur) to other mammals, like dolphins, manatees, walruses, and sea otters.

This journey is the basis for a soothing instruction of marine mammal sleep habits, delivered in a simplified but accurate manner. And, as is usual for Arbordale Books, the story is not all; an additional section at the end offers information and activities “For Creative Minds.” Youngsters can learn more about mammal facts, and draw and create their own mammal by learning how each part of the body helps them survive.

The illustration is beautiful, and rich with movement and color. McLennan confidently uses burnt yellow, purples, and reds to contrast the myriad of greens and blues traditionally associated with the sea, and as a result, deepens the images with possibility and imagination. The animals seem to have personalities, even with eyes closed, and each component of the sea world appears benevolent and safe.

It’s even more unsettling, then, in the midst of this loving, watery world, to in each scene see the boy depicted next to the animals as also asleep—but underwater. Since it is impossible for humans to sleep as such, the boy often appears dead, especially with the walruses, where he is suspended in a neck flotation device with his eyes closed. Karwoski and McLennan make the unsignaled leap that the boy is no longer awake and listening to this bedtime story in the rest of the book as he is on page one, but especially since in our dreams our dream-self is awake, it is even more jarring.

Overlooking the boy’s appearance, which does upset some of the soothing calm the story and quality of the illustrations largely achieve, in concept and substance it is a smart book that successfully bridges a child’s imagination and growing understanding of the physical world.
-Christine Thomas

School Library Journal - June 2006

As a young boy slumbers, readers learn about the sleeping habits of 10 assorted water mammals, such as whales, seals, and dolphins. Karwoski introduces the story with an informative preface in which she points out the vast differences in these mammals’ sleeping habits. However, the picture-book pages that follow, while age-appropriate, seem too simplistic in contrast. Attractive artwork resembling oil paintings helps set the deep-sea mood by using a blue-gray palette. Nonetheless, at times the appearance of the young boy sleeping underwater is disconcerting. The author provides an appendix where still more information about the mammals is highlighted. The bibliography and extended artwork suggestions rely on using the publisher’s Web page to aid in creating original drawings.
- Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA


I haven’t lost much sleep wondering how marine mammals from orcas to elephant seals get a little shut-eye of their own without drowning, but this book has a major “holy sea cow” factor going for it.

Dolphins sleep with one eye open, for example, and harbor seals “hang like bottles.” A little boy in red pajamas sleeps right beside them, helping kids imagine what they’d look like in the same positions.

Karwoski and McLennan do a good job revealing the animals’ secrets, and activities at the back reinforce the lessons. Not to mention it adds ammunition to parents’ arsenal in getting their kids ready for sleepy-time: if a walrus can snooze in the arctic cold, kiddo, what’s your excuse? 

About Single Parents

Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean is a relaxing bedtime story in which the reader learns how marine mammals sleep in the ocean. Author Gail Langer Karwoski creates a magical voyage through the deep blue sea, revealing the ocean animal’s unique sleeping habits. Illustrator, Connie McLennan’s peaceful images depict the beauty of the animals and their natural habitats. In the back of the book are teaching tools and templates to allow children to create their own marine mammals.

Author Gail Langer Karwoski's inspired and award-winning new children's book is, well ... dreamy! Fascinating facts about how marine mammals sleep in their ocean home are gently shared with the reader as they are taken of a drift dive through the night sea in the wonderful illustrations by Connie McLennan. A perfect bedtime story, this book is recommended for 2 - 8 year olds, but don't let that quide you - the story was completely enjoyable to my 8 and 11-year old children, as well as to me (not telling my age)!

Mrs. Karwoski weaves scientific fact with a softly poetic style as she describes the wonder of just how such creatures as sea otters, humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins, manatees, harbor seals, walruses, beluga whales, and orcas sleep in their "water" beds. You will find bonus educational facts and teaching aids as well as templates for children to use to make their own sea mammals in the back of the book.

This book won the 2005 Mom's Choice Award from The Just For Mom Foundation, and it will win the hearts of you and your chidren. It will also make a great holiday or special occasion gift! 
- Dianne Haddaway

Juvenile Book Review Committee, Juneau Public Libraries

Interesting facts float through this lyrical picture book, presented in anunderstandable manner. A child personalizes each spread, bringing a calming tone for easy bedtime reading. The book is further complimented by appealing oil painting illustrations, soothing yet dotted with water details. Fascinating facts and how-to drawing information draw attention to the back of the book. A lovely, recommended book.
- Nancy Ferrell

National Center for the Study of Children's Literature, SDSU

The story's red-pajamed "Little Person" is about to go to sleep. As he drifts, he imagines the sleeping habits of marine mammals like walruses, seals, otters, and dolphins. Turns out they all have different ways of getting through the night; I found the information very interesting myself; moreover, Karwoski uses a poetic narrative voice: "Belugas float like white clouds..," or "Northern fur seals sleep in a heap.." Or this about walruses: ".they bob like buoys on the brine."

In each two-page illustration, the young human sleeper appears amid the snoozing denizens of the deep-he is snuggled up with harbor seals or floating on kelp beds with otters. McLennan's paintings are extraordinary, adding much to the rhythmic, affectionate text. Details abound, such as the many marine items in the little person's room.

I highly recommend this fine collaboration as a bedtime story book or an anytime entertainment.
-A. Allison.

Heartland Reviews

This “Mom’s Choice Award” book explains how mammals in the ocean are able to sleep. Excellent illustrations of each animal also include a young child mimicking the animal’s sleeping position. The material is interesting and there is an excellent how-to-draw activity of sea mammals in the back of the book. We rated this book five hearts.
- Bob Spear, Publisher and Chief Reviewer. 

Children's Literature Comprehensive Database

The peacefulness of a deep blue sea is the chosen setting for this book that creatively shows how ocean animals sleep.  The hook captures the attention of the readers and listeners by suggesting that they may wonder about what it is like to sleep in the ocean.  Utilizing two-page spreads, the text and bright, appealing illustrations highlight different kinds of mammals and their ocean sleep habits.  Included are Orca, Beluga, and Humpback whales; Harbor, Elephant, and Northern Fur seals; walruses, dolphins, manatees, and sea otters.  In an innovative move, the pajama-clad child from the opening spread is featured on subsequent spreads which show him sleeping in the ocean like the mammals do.  Each spread has only a few sentences of text.  However, much information is imparted in it.  A page entitled “For Creative Minds” follows the main text body and consists of many facts about marine mammals.  Another page gives information about how to make a picture of a marine mammal.  Line drawing aids are included.  This book will add a plethora of ideas to elementary science lessons.  It also comes across as a pleasing bedtime story.
- Nancy Garhan Attebury

NSTA Reccomends (National Science Teacher Association)

“This book made me realize what a person would look like if he slept like an otter,” Eric said. “It is fun to see a person imitating the sea mammals,” Julia added. “I liked the imaginary parts, but this book is full of interesting, accurate facts,” Cassiel reminded the class. These are some of the enthusiastic comments made by my second graders after they listened to me read Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean.

This book provides an intriguing introduction to the behavior patterns of marine mammals. The children were amazed to learn, for example, that harbor seals “hang like bottles” as they sleep, that dolphins sleep with one eye open while wide-awake pod members patrol the “bedroom” perimeter, and that air sacs in a walrus’ neck hold its head and tusks above water during sleep.

The brief text is also poetic and beautifully crafted. Manatees “rise like bubbles” and harbor seals “curl like jug handles” as they sleep. The large, richly colored illustrations capture childrens' imaginations, and, while inclusion of a dreaming boy sleeping next to the animals tickled them, it did not detract from the informational content of the drawings. “That part helped me picture how each animal rested,” Joseph told us.

My class, old-hands at listening to nonfiction texts read aloud to them, could not wait to reread this book independently, and they unanimously recommended it for other children to enjoy. I agree! 
- Nancy McDonough, 1st & 2nd grade teacher.

So Cal City Kids - June 2013

"This really is the perfect story-time book! My son and I received it and really enjoyed it! Water Beds invites children to drift into sleep on gentle waves of imagination."

Smart Writers

Water Beds - Sleeping in the Ocean, written by Gail Langer Karwoski and illustrated by Connie McLennan is a bedtime story. It's a scientific book filled with information about the sea and how animals sleep in the depths of the ocean. It’s a book that children will love to hear over and over again, and it’s a book that parents will love to read, as they lull their “little person” to sleep on the gentle waves of his dreams.
- Donna O'Donnell Figurski, Educator, Author, and Children's Book Reviewer

Judith Nasse

Did you know that sea otters sleep with kelp strands around their tummies to anchor themselves from drifting away? You’ll find out about how sea otters and other sea mammals sleep in this sweet, gentle book which describes how different groups of sea mammals sleep in the ocean. In this story a little boy copies the mammals’ sleep stances in just the way young children like to act out what they see and imagine.

The dynamic illustrations by Connie McLennan are a perfect mirror to the informative, well-researched, yet flowing narrative by Gail Langer Karwoski. Parents, teachers, and children will not only make this a nap and bed-time story, but will also enjoy the extra facts and activities at the end. In a classroom a unit could be extrapolated from this book which could include art, movement, drama, science, and literacy. This book is highly recommended for young readers, ages 3-8.
- Judith Nasse

Science Books & Films Review - Summer 2006

Consider different groups of marine mammals: whales and dolphins, harbor seals, fur seals, walruses, elephant seals, sea otters and manatees. Each has evolved a unique way of accomplishing the necessary task of sleeping in its watery environment without succumbing. The connection with a child’s understanding of sleep is a natural few authors have exploited, and it appears to work. The result is an intriguing discussion of a scientific question in a language that is nonthreatening and completely relevant to the reader.

The full-color illustrations include a winsome child, representing the reader, mimicking a marine mammal in repose....A concluding section titled “For Creative Minds” takes the subject one step further, with additional details that are of scientific interest. Finally, an activity section, “Make Your Own Marine Mammal Using Adaptations,” encourages readers to invent their own mammals, using downloaded art or the outlines provided. This is a very resourceful way to bring science to the young!
Johnes K. Moore, emeritus, Salem State College, Salem, MA

BookLoons Reviews - July 2007

In her Preface, Gail Langer Karwoski speaks of the sleep habits of marine mammals, and of our own need for sleep. She suggests that 'As our minds drift into sleep, we can pretend that we're floating on gentle waves all night long.'

Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean begins with Connie McLennan's well executed illustration of a boy tucked into bed, alongside stuffed animals that are sea critters, his imagination clearly wide awake. Karwoski's text asks, 'Have you ever wondered what it would be like to sleep in the deep, deep sea?'

The boy appears in each picture that follows, mimicking the position of the sleeping marine mammals he's with. First we meet Orcas, 'a rhythmic dance of black and white in the blue sea.' Next we snooze along with Harbor seals, Dolphins, Manatees, Humpbacks, Northern fur seals, Belugas, Walruses who 'bob like buoys in the brine', Elephant seals, and Sea otters.

The book concludes with a couple of informatory pages on marine mammals, and a craft to Make Your Own Marine Mammal, with guidance on selecting and drawing its attributes. Kids interested in the ocean's inhabitants will treasure Water Beds, and adults will enjoy reading (and learning) along with them.
- Hilary Williamson

Laura Williams' Musings

This book makes for a fun guessing game with you children as each page is set up as a birth announcement for a particular animal. My children quickly caught on to listen for clues in the announcement and were shouting out the animal before I was done reading same. In the back of the book, is a Creative Minds section to learn more about baby animals as well as other educational items.  There is also a page to make your own birth announcement.

I can see possibilities of creative writing using the birth announcement. An older elementary child could be asked to find the details of a particular animal at birth and then write the announcement for that baby.

You could also use this book as a baby shower gift for a new Mother.  What a fun keepsake this would be for the mother to fill in the birth announcement with her new baby's information. The little one would enjoy having the book read to him or her as she grew.

I give this book a bright line of 5 stars.
- Laura Williams

Timmins Daily Press - April 5, 2008

Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean by Gail Langer Karwoski (Arbordale Publishing, Ages 4-8) Tucked in his warm bed with his cuddly stuffed animals, a young boy thinks about sleeping marine mammals as he drifts off to sleep. He dreams of gliding orcas, hovering harbour seals, one-eye-closed-one-eye-open dolphins, resting manatees, napping humpback whale babies, curled up northern fur seals, floating beluga whales, snoozing bobbing walruses, diving elephant seals, and dozing sea otters wrapped in kelp strands. For each animal there is a short poetic description of their sleeping habits, as well as a lovely a two-page oil painting by Connie McLennan. End pages come with additional information on marine mammals and a creative drawing activity.
- Jose Gagnon

The Reading Tub - May 2008

Summary: I sleep in my bed, but what about the whales and the dolphins and the otters? How do they sleep? Where do they sleep? Follow along as a young child imagines himself sleeping like the other sea animals do. This picture book uses fantasy to teach children about the sleep habits of marine mammals.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, playtime reading, read aloud book, learning to read

Recommended Age: read together: 3 to 8; read yourself: 6 to 9

Age of Child: Read with 6½-year-old girl.

Little Kid Reaction: Our daughter was less interested in listening to the story than she was looking for the "cute" animals (like the sea otters) and imitating them.

Big Kid Reaction: This was an interesting way to talk about how animals sleep underwater. The illustrations are beautiful and soothing ... just what you want at bedtime. Of all the "For Creative Minds" projects that I've seen in Arbordale books, I really liked the drawing instructions. What a great way to show kids how similar and unique animals can be.

Pros: Kids can see for themselves the answer to one of their favorite questions: how do animals sleep underwater?

M. G. Paregian - June 2018

How do they do that? — sleep while under water! They breathe air, yet they are capable of remaining in the water. This challenge, and other interesting facts about marine mammals are explored in this exciting exposé of the life of marine animals, including dolphins, manatees, humpback whales, walruses, and other fascinating creatures of the sea. There is also a section for the reader to make their own marine animal.


Brad Andrews, Sea World Adventure Parks, Corporate Vice President, Zoological Operations 

"Water Beds is a book that dives into the many mysteries of animal sleep with illustrations that are a dream come true. It's a great way to introduce youngsters to the variety of sleeping patterns found in marine animals ranging from killer whales to sea otters to walruses. A wonderful bed time story…perfect for inspiring dreams on the beauty of the oceans." 

Dr. Robert D. Ballard, founder and President of the Institute For Exploration (IFE) at Mystic Aquarium, Explorer-in-Residence for the National Geographic Society and a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy

"A wonderful nighttime read as parents put their children to bed with happy images dancing in their heads."

Donny Seagraves, Junebug Books

"Gail Karwoski's new book, WATER BEDS: SLEEPING IN THE OCEAN, is the perfect bedtime story for the young person in your house -- or on your gift list. Told in dreamy, poetic language based on up-to-date scientific research, Karwoski reveals how ten different sea mammals manage to sleep in the ocean. Illustrated in rich, tropical colors, this book is beautiful, memorable, and destined to become a new bedtime story classic. "

Kathy Streeter, Curator of Marine Mammals, New England Aquarium (Excerpt of letter to author Gail Karwoski)

" I just wanted to tell you how much I loved your book on dolphins. Jenny Montague is in my department and I was thrilled when I saw the book. What is so extraordinary are the subtle, and not so subtle, realities that showed up in the illustrations - like the dolphins sleeping with one eye closed. That was only one of many. I need to look at the book again to recall the others - it has been months since I skimmed through it and time passed rapidly since I planned to write to you, as has my memory of the details. However, I do recall exclaiming with glee at every turn of the page about one particular thing or another that is so rarely noted. I am looking forward to reading some of your other books now as well! I am sure my children will love them as well."