“I wake up very early,” says the unnamed protagonist of Nora Ericson and Elly MacKay’s picture book. Too early, the child’s father repeatedly echoes as he rouses himself from bed to make the coffee, wake the dogs but not the baby, and sit outside to watch the sun rise with his little morning companion.
Ericson’s story is poetic and sweet, one that every adult with a tiny early riser of their own will surely recognize. She pays particular attention to sounds. Daddy goes “shuffle shuffle down the stairs,” the dogs “snuffle snuffle, s-t-r-e-e-e-t-c-h-h-h,” and then “burble burble goes the coffeepot.” Her words compel readers to speak them quietly: “Now the wind is waking. Tickle tickle on my cheeks, rustle rustle through the leaves.” The book’s soundscape gently awakens the mind and makes for an engaging, comforting read.
The book’s warm lyricism becomes truly beautiful when paired with MacKay’s illustrations, which perfectly capture the experience of a sleepy morning routine. MacKay washes every spread in hushed blues, from the deep navy of a bedroom shadow, to the blue-gray steam rising from Daddy’s coffee cup to fog up his glasses, to the nearly white-blue light of daybreak. The book is packed with noteworthy images, such as when the small child, lovey in tow, stands silhouetted in the doorway of Mama and Daddy’s bedroom. In the darkness before dawn, stars twinkle over the quiet front porch. The moon glows above as the family watches from below. “Hello, Moon,” the child says. “You’re lucky, you get to stay up all night.”
Too Early is an ideal book for adults and children to enjoy together, especially on one of those snoozy mornings when no one feels quite ready to face the world just yet. Go ahead, it says. Snuggle up and enjoy a little lie-in, with coffee for the grown-up, warm milk for the little one and a glorious sunrise to start the day.