I’m Really Not Tired

Written by Lori Sunshine
Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler

After lights-out, Sam sneaks out of bed with his furry accomplice, Petey Bear, to discover what goes on in the house at night.

“We miss all the fun, Pete, it’s really not fair,”
Sam said as they slid on their seats down a stair.
“Could our basement be filled with a thousand toy trains?
Does our bathroom have fish swimming up all the drains?”

Is there a circus performing in the kitchen? Has the guest room turned into a zoo? And most important, what DO Mom and Dad do after Sam’s bedtime? The truth awaits in the den if only Sam and Petey can avoid that squeaky stair.

This rollicking, rhyming adventure proves, once and for all, that kids aren’t missing out on anything special after bedtime. Or are they?



  • Mom’s Choice Award Gold Recipient: Bedtime Stories, 2010
  • Alabama Camellia Children’s Choice Award list 2009-10
  • South Dakota Prairie Bud Award list 2010-11


From School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—Sam is convinced that all the best things happen after he goes to bed. Envisioning a circus in the kitchen, a zoo in the guest room, fish swimming in the bathroom drains, and more, he hatches a plan to sneak downstairs and discover the fun for himself. Sunshine’s rhyme scheme works well when the lines are shorter and the action moves quickly. However, when the sentences are longer, the phrasing is sometimes awkward. Ebbeler’s acrylic paintings feature a likable round-faced boy and a stuffed panda accomplice whose facial expressions look convincingly real. Spreads with multiple smaller illustrations depicting Sam’s sneak attack on his parents are mixed with detailed full-page paintings showing his imaginative ideas. When he eventually makes it downstairs, he is disappointed to see his parents just reading and relaxing. But on the last page, the illustration reveals the adults quietly but enthusiastically eating huge pieces of cake. —Susan E. Murray, Glendale Public Library, AZ

From Children’s Literature
What kid hasn’t wondered what wonderful things his or her parents do after tuck-in time? One night, young Sam and his trusty stuffed friend Petey Bear—neither of whom are really tired, by the way—decide to find out. Instead of drifting off to sleep, they sneak down the hall to find out the truth. As they stealthily maneuver around creaky floorboards and stairs, Sam imagines the fabulous adventures his parents must surely be having without him, as only a very young child could: a mom-and-pop circus trapeze act in the kitchen, a thousand-toy-train setup in the basement, a petting zoo in the guest room, and on and on. After a few false starts, Sam and Petey Bear complete their mission. They’re shocked to find…Mom reading a magazine and Dad doing a crossword puzzle. Disappointed and undiscovered, Sam and Petey Bear slip back upstairs and into slumber, vowing to try again the next night. This read-aloud picture book explores universal curiosity about what really goes on in a child’s house at night in rhyme and with humor. It will strike a chord with kids and parents alike. While the story is funny and the scenes imaginative, the rhyme stumbles or is strained at times, and I believe Sam’s adventure might have been better served by being told in prose. The illustrations feature a lot of action and facial expression, utilizing a colorful yet distinctly nighttime palette. Overall, this book would be a good choice for bedtime reading with a preschool-aged listener. — Dianne Ochiltree

From The Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal
Books Kids Will Love: Two new picture books deal with the ritual of bedtime…. Like many children, the little boy in Lori Sunshine’s “I’m Really Not Tired” (Flashlight Press, 42 pp., ages 4-8), is convinced that his parents do amazing things after he’s asleep — play video games, eat ice cream and cake, maybe even perform in a circus! He and his toy panda slowly, carefully slip down the stairs, getting caught once when a stair squeaks, then finally peep around a corner to see his mother and dad doing … nothing at all! “It wasn’t at all how he’d pictured those scenes/Dad worked on the crossword. Mom read magazines.” — Carla Carlton

From The Baton Rouge Advocate
Sometimes overlooked under video games, talking dolls, action figures and other toys, books can be great holiday gifts. For one thing, they don’t require batteries. The only current involved is the tiny charges shooting between the synapses of the reader’s brain. With a book, you come away knowing more than you did before. That’s not always true with some other toys and gifts. Books don’t cost as much as many other gifts either. When you weigh the enjoyment you get from a good book against the price, it’s surely a bargain. That’s true of juvenile, adult, fiction or nonfiction. The selection is staggering. The availability of titles is unsurpassed. So a book is a great gift. With that in mind, here are some staff reviews of holiday-themed books currently available….

[I’m Really Not Tired] is not a book specifically about Christmas, but it deals with a problem that is often at its worst on Christmas Eve: the reluctance of young children to go to bed. Young Sam doesn’t want to go to bed. He keeps telling his parents he’s not tired, but he really is. He vows to sneak back downstairs and see what is going on that they’re trying to hide from him. He’s sure there is a circus or a zoo that comes out of hiding just as soon as he falls asleep.
So one night Sam and his sidekick, Petey Bear, sneak downstairs to spy on the ruckus. What they find is a revelation. No circus. No zoo. No ice cream feast. Just the same ordinary things that happen during the day. So Sam goes on back upstairs to his bed. Even though he’s not tired. Soon he is asleep. That’s a lesson all parents wish they could offer their toddlers. —Greg Langley

From Sacramento Book Review
Samuel McKay is a lot like other boys and girls–they aren’t tired. He is convinced his parents have all the fun once he falls asleep. Tonight, he is determined to catch them in action, whether they are performing in a circus in the kitchen or witnessing monkeys swinging on the drapes. Along with Petey, his stuffed bear, they tiptoe as quietly as possible around the house until they are eventually caught by his parents. He is disappointed, to say the least, when he sees his dad doing a crossword puzzle and his mom reading a magazine, and is quickly sent back to bed. A determined little boy he plans to head out earlier the following night before he misses all the action. Sunshine’s rhyming style makes the story much more fun to read aloud. Ebbeler’s illustrations turn imagination into visual reality with vibrant colors and detail. —Jennifer LeBrun

From MyShelf.com
When I was a little girl, I was convinced my parents had all kinds of fun after sending my brothers and me to bed, so I related completely to the main character of I’m Really Not Tired. Sam is convinced his parents are having tremendous fun without him each night—he pictures a zoo in the guest room, toy trains in the basement, maybe a circus—all shown in hilarious detail by Jeffrey Ebbeler’s illustrations. Sam decides he and his trusty teddy bear simply have to discover the truth and turn the trek downstairs into a mini mission impossible as they try to learn the truth.
This bright, lively book is sure to be a hit with parents and kids (even if it does reveal the secret that parents actually are pretty boring when the kids aren’t around.) Though the rhyming story is sweet and moves along nicely, the real hit of the book is Sam’s imagination revealed in all its magic on each page. My favorites were the space suit especially designed to accommodate the mom’s enormous beehive hair and the round dad soaring lightly through the air on the flying trapeze. This one will bring giggles from the kids and warm smiles from their reading parent. Definitely a winner. —Jan Fields

From Cheryl Coon, author of Books to Grow With
“A cheerful tale that offers both a fun read and reassurance that what goes on in the house in the dark is nothing to be scared of.” 

From GoodReads with Ronna.com, “Up All Night”
Andrew [six-year-old son] and I recently read  I’m Really Not Tired, a children’s book written by Lori Sunshine and illustrated by Jeffery Ebbeler from Flashlight Press. During a time in his life when he is normally consumed by stories about Star Wars, Bakugan, robots and superheroes, my son welcomed this change in our nightly reading! The story is about a little boy who does not want to go to bed because he is convinced that he misses out on tons of fun when he’s sleeping. He imagines his Mom and Dad attend a circus and zoo right there in his own house, he imagines there are toy trains and fish in his bathroom that come to life while he’s asleep and even a rocket in his front yard! He plans to stay awake one night so he can see for himself and catch his parents in the act of having fun without him. It’s funny, because I remember thinking all these things when I was a kid. I was convinced that all the fun began after I hit the pillow and on more than one occasion my son has expressed similar feelings: “It’s not fair! Grown ups get to stay up late and do whatever they want!” “You and Daddy get to stay up late and have fun while I have to go to sleep!” “What do you and Daddy DO while I’m asleep anyway?” “But I’m NOT TIRED!”My son was intrigued by this book because he could really identify with the boy’s plight. Reading page after page he said, “hey, this is what I think” or “this is what I say!” He really saw himself in the story and felt some camaraderie with this imaginary character. He wanted the boy to catch Mom and Dad, I think, to prove that we do throw parties without him every night. I admit, I was a little nervous he’d get some ideas from the story, but thankfully our explanations of what we do when he goes to bed seem to satisfy him. I mean, who wants to stay up late and clean the living room, right?—Kim Phillips

From blogger Julie M. Prince at YABooksCentral.com
What Goes on After Bedtime? By far my favorite picture book this year to date, I’m Really Not Tired addresses the age-old question asked by kids who hate bedtime…does all the fun stuff happen while I’m sleeping? Do Sam’s parents eat ice cream and cake? Perhaps there’s a circus in the kitchen and a zoo in the guest bedroom! So, Sam and his best pal Petey Bear put their nighttime plan into action and go on a truth-seeking mission. In addition to containing a brilliant story, playing on an honest premise that kids will find familiar, the text holds rhythmic beats throughout. And the artwork! Oh, the delicious artwork! It’s perfectly married to the author’s story and even expands on it to take this picture book to new heights. The use of color and Impressionist-like brushstrokes are astounding, and the foreground and background play important roles in every illustration, making every page count. This book is sure to be a hit with the preschool crowd!

From blogger Luci Weston, www.HereWeAreWithLuci.com
Tired of standing in the children’s section of a bookstore or surfing websites swamped by so many choices? As you look around, colorful covers of cute characters look back at you. Which one to pick? Maybe Emma or John already has it? Hmmm…perhaps a hat and gloves set will do fine instead. Wait weary shopper! I have the book that will not only make you happy, but the child, and the parents, too. How is that for a win-win-win situation? Read on my friend…
I’m Really Not Tired hit the market about a month ago; good odds it won’t be a duplicate gift. It is an entertaining, clever, and well-written story of a boy’s curiosity about what goes on after he is put to bed. Lori Sunshine (yes, that is her real name), a mother of two and an award-winning writer, does an excellent job of interpreting the child’s imagination. The lively illustrations in this picture book, by Jeffrey Ebbeler, support the story in a humorous, straightforward manner. Besides being a great holiday gift idea, the back-story intrigued me. The book came about because the author took lemons and made lemonade. Motivated to address a common issue, Lori expanded her career into a new area. When asked what inspired her, she told me, “When my son was little, he NEVER slept! He was sure we were having fun without him. So the book was written in a sleep-deprived haze! I thought it would be a creative way to point out how silly he was being. And have a little fun writing it! Plus, I figured we weren’t the only parents with this problem. Other parents might get a kick out of the story, too!” Indeed they will, Lori, as their children take a bedtime journey without having to get out from under the covers!

About the Creators

Lori Sunshine won two National Writers Guild Awards and a local Emmy working as a television writer and producer. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children, neither of whom is ever tired! This is her first picture book.



Jeffrey Ebbeler has illustrated for magazines, newspapers, and a variety of book publishers. He has worked as an art director and book designer, and has a BFA in illustration from the Art Academy of Cincinnati. Jeff lives in Chicago, IL.
You can find out more about Jeffrey and his work on his website

Book Details

ISBN: ePDF 9781947277021  EPUB 9781947277038  KF8  9781947277045
Age Group: 4-8

Activity Guides & More

THEMES: imagination, play, bedtime, curiosity

Leveling Information

Lexile Measurements provided by Metametrics. Guided Reading Levels provided by Marla Conn using Fountas and Pinnel Guided Reading Text Characteristics.

Lexile Display: AD600L

Word Count: 738

MSL: 9.342

MLF: 3.622

Decoding Display: Medium

Semantic Display: High

Syntactic Display: Very High

Structure Display: Very High 

Guided Reading Level: M

Grade Level Equivalent: 2

Interest Level by Grade: Pre-K-3

Educational Description: Picture book, lyrical text, rhythm and rhyme

Story Elements: setting: night time at home, plot and character development, young main character Ben and his Bear, humorous tone, illustrations enhance meaning and tone

Comprehension Strategies: identify cause and effect relationships, sequence of events, predicting outcomes, make inferences, draw conclusions, make text-to-self connections

Themes: creative imagination, bedtime, night, boy and his bear