Sleepless Knight by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost uses the characters from the Adventures in Cartooning series of kids’ books about making comics to tell a straightforward (if goofy) story. The only nod to the series’ history of instructional how-tos are a few endpapers showing how to draw the book’s four main characters: the Knight, Edward the horse, a rabbit, and a bear.
The Knight and Edward are going camping. Although poor Edward is completely overloaded with unnecessary stuff, the Knight adds one more thing: “I can’t sleep without my teddy!” After the beloved bear is found, the two unpack and set up camp, with a fire and plenty of marshmallows. There’s a talking rabbit and a little bit of danger to get the adrenaline pumping, and Teddy gets lost once again.
Visually, the cartooning is fun, although I found it odd how Edward was drawn with his saddle on even when he’s tossing and turning on the ground, trying to sleep. For those interested in making comics, there are lots of interesting sample panels here, but I miss the guidance of the lessons in previous installments. I preferred combining education with a picture book format — but there’s a reason the approach has changed. This is aimed much younger than the how-to books, for 3-to-5-year-olds instead of 6-to-10-year-olds, and intended as an introduction to the series. (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)