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The Picture Book Buzz

Huddle Up! Cuddle Up! - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Unless your child is one that mimics the 'Energizer Bunny' all day, crashes face first into their meal, and sleeps all night, chances are bedtime (routine or not) has at times meant struggles. The pleas for one more story, one more glass of water, one more hug, one more check for monsters ring through many houses at bedtime.

Bethany Hegedus and Michael Deas team up on a humorous picture book which makes an end run around the struggle, shakes things up, and provides a field goal of a bedtime book.

Huddle Up! Cuddle Up!

Author: Bethany Hegedus

Illustrator: Michael Deas

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers (2020)

Ages: 3-7



Bedtime, football, humor, and family time.


It's Sunday night, football night, and the countdown clock to bedtime is winding down. Will the Dream Team be able to get to bed on time? First there's the pre-game warm-up in the bath, then it's time to get suited up in pajamas, and don't forget your fancy footwork. After some interference from the family dog and a full-counter sweep of the kitchen, it's time to huddle up and cuddle up for a bedtime story time-out! Award-winning author Bethany Hegedus shows how football time equals family time in this hilarious twist on the bedtime ritual. Young football fans will finally want to huddle up and get ready for bed because sleep time has never been so much fun!

Opening Lines:

Huddle up, team.

It's Sunday night.

Football night.

Let's crush this . .

The coaches gather their gear . . .

and the pregame warm-up begins.

What I liked about this book:

First off, how can you not be curious about that cover? Huddle Up! (it's shaped like a football and the kids are playing the game on their bedspreads) Cuddle Up! (or it shaped like an eye, focused on the bunkbeds and kids in their pajamas?). Either way, Michael Deas and Viking Books' art director were ingenious. And they definitely snagged my attention right away.

From the very beginning, you know you're in for a fun book as the parents (coaches) race their kids to the bathroom carrying a clipboard, stopwatch, & whistle. When they do a sports drink dump - as a football fan, I chuckled. As a parent, I cringed as I thought of the water to be cleaned up.

Text © Bethany Hegedus, 2020. Image © Michael Deas, 2020.

While the "bedtime countdown clock" winds down, the players suit up, brush their teeth, and show off their fancy footwork. Even a bunny slipper gets in on the action.

With six minutes left . . . (okay honestly, except for maybe Christmas, when did you ever get your kids bathed & into bed in fifteen minutes!), Mom calls the "Razzle Dazzle" play.

Text © Bethany Hegedus, 2020. Image © Michael Deas, 2020.

Between interference calls, a furry running back who nabs the ball, and a flag for unnecessary ruffness (tickling the dog during a tackle), the "Dream Team" successfully finishes the laundry, cleans the house, and makes a touchdown on a football field bedspread.

Wrapping together - a fun "announcer" narration, speech bubbles, lively illustrations, and a ton of sports images, actions, and phrases into a delightful - "Huddle Up. Cuddle up for . . . A story time-out" - makes this a delightful read- aloud and an inspiration for a fun bedtime.

Text © Bethany Hegedus, 2020. Image © Michael Deas, 2020.

This is a great book for sports fans and those looking to sprinkle fun into bedtime. As well as writers looking to study the interaction between sparse text/dialogue and illustrations. Overall, it's a wonderful book that families will enjoy reading again and again.


- try a game of laundry basketball as you change for bed or a kid version of 'Jack-in-the box' (

- what is your favorite sport? Can you make up a bedtime game based on that sport?

- maybe play 'Simon Says' as you prepare for bed.

- try a campfire story time with flashlights.

- check out the Huddle Up! coloring pages Bethany & Michael created (

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Check out the VIrtual Book Launch:

The Writing Barn and BookPeople Present: Football! Football! Football! with Authors Bethany Hegedus and Fred Bowen and

Illustrators Mike Deas and James Ransome

Get ready for a football-centered celebration with Huddle Up, Cuddle Up (Penguin/Viking) by Bethany Hegedus, and Gridiron: Stories from 100 Years of the NFL (McElderry/S&S) by Fred Bowen.

First, for the under ten-set: a read-aloud by Bethany Hegedus and some illustration play by play with Mike Deas, you and your kids will be all tuckered out come bedtime.

Then, for the over ten-set: Don your helmets and shoulder pads and test your football trivia with Washington Post Kids sports columnist Fred Bowen and go inside the locker room of illustrations with award-winning illustrator James Ransome.

Families! Educators! Football Fans All: join us for prizes, cyber snacks, and an afternoon event where we will leave it all on the field!


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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