While You Are Sleeping

While You Are Sleeping

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Written & Illustrated by: Durga Bernhard

See what one moment in time looks like across the globe

As one child goes to bed, another child is waking up on the other side of the world. With each page turn, readers see the same moment in time in nine different countries: the United States, Nigeria, Japan, Mexico, India, Thailand, Haiti, England, and Brazil. The lift-the-flap feature makes the "big idea" concept of time accessible to young readers. Open the book to a child reading before bed in Alaska, then lift the flap on the opposite page to see someone in Nigeria getting dressed to start her day.

Durga Bernhard's simple text and whimsical illustrations make While You Are Sleeping a perfect read-aloud-especially for bedtime. Back matter includes a map and author's note explaining time zones and highlighting the different countries featured in the text.

An excellent resource for all areas of the curriculum, this book invites readers to learn more about the cultures, people, and places in the world around them.

Look Inside the Book:

Author Bio:

Durga Bernhard

Durga Bernhard is the author/illustrator of several picture books, including Fiddle Is a Song (Chronicle), To & Fro, Fast & Slow (Walker & Company), and Earth, Sky, Wet, Dry (Orchard). Durga lives in Shankaden, New York.

Read more about Durga.

Awards & Honors:

  • NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
  • Notable Books for a Global Society
  • CCBC Choices 2012

Editorial Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews

A clever design allows readers to travel the world, one page turn at a time. "While you are reading, / on the other side of the world, / someone is getting dressed." The illustrations show an Alaskan child curled up in bed with a parent at 10 p.m., facing a map of Africa, Nigeria highlighted, with an inset gatefold. A flip reveals a young Nigerian girl at 9 a.m. Turning the page reveals that same Nigerian girl opposite a Japanese child...and so on until the circular tale returns to Alaska. Teachers will appreciate Bernhard’s incorporation of 12- and 24-hour digital clocks, as well as the analog clock hiding under each round gatefold. The final page is a map of the world delineated by time zone and includes thumbnails from each highlighted country. A small text block explains the reason for the time zones and tells how they work. Gorgeous illustrations combine beautiful colors with a glimpse of life in other countries—the houses, foods and activities of faraway places. Both educational and somnolent, this does for younger children what David A. Adler’s Time Zones (2010) did for older ones.

Publishers Weekly

Well-suited to storytime, bedtime, or just about any other time, this soothing picture book leapfrogs around the globe to drive home the idea that in any given moment, kids worldwide are sleeping, working, playing, and dreaming. "While you are sleeping," Bernhard opens, "on the other side of the world, someone is getting dressed." Opposite an Alaskan mother and child reading together at 10 p.m., a circular flap lifts to reveal a Nigerian girl tying her head wrap at 9 a.m. From there, Bernhard jumps to Japan, Mexico, India, and elsewhere as children engage in everyday activities. A closing note touches on time zones, the prime meridian, and 12- versus 24-hour clocks.

Yellow Brick Road

The notion that, in other places and cultures, it is also a different time is hard to grasp. After reading and seeing illustrations of their own time and activities, readers lift the flap to see the same moment in different places. Countries include the U.S., Nigeria, Japan, Mexico, India, Thailand, Haiti, England and Brazil. More information on time zones, including a map is included in back matter. A discussion and activity guide is available at and a song based on the book can be heard at

School Library Journal

As she did with In the Fiddle Is a Song (Chronicle, 2006), Bernhard has taken a relatively complicated concept and presented it with elegant clarity. She begins her journey in Alaska at 10:00 p.m., with a mother reading a story to her child. Meanwhile "on the other side of the world, someone is getting dressed." A small circular flap depicts a Nigerian village, and when lifted it shows a child completing the action described at 9:00 a.m. The next page shows that same child walking through her village holding a pineapple and a loaf of bread and states: "While you are carrying, someone is walking home with a friend." The corresponding flap on the page opposite depicts a Japanese village, and it is lifted to reveal two Japanese boys making their way home at 5:00 p.m. The pattern continues, moving from country to country with children performing actions appropriate to a particular time of day until readers are back in Alaska at 10:00 p.m. with a now-slumbering child. The carefully composed gouache illustrations use mostly muted shades punctuated with occasional splashes of bright color and accurately depict the architecture, landscape, dress, etc., of each country. The small flaps are superimposed on maps that show the location of both the country and the continent. Lift-the-flap books tend not to fare well in general circulation, but this one would work well either one-on-one or in a group setting for a lesson that includes time, geography, and diversity.

Washington Parent

What happens on the other side of the planet? This lyrical lift-the-flap book of time around the world helps kids to imagine the daily lives of others. The book is well-designed to make abstract concepts easy to grasp. For example, it opens with, “While you are reading, on the other side of the world, someone is getting dressed.” The colorful gouache illustrations depict a mother and child reading in Alaska at 10 p.m. on page 1 while on page 2 the flap, when lifted, reveals a girl in Nigeria fixing her headwear at her time of 9 a.m. When readers turn the page, they discover the Nigerian girl now carrying fruit and bread at 9 a.m. while the lifted flap reveals a boy “walking home with a friend” at 5 p.m. in Japan. The small maps on each page help youngsters to locate each featured country, and the lively scenes of village or town life allow them to step into a specific culture rich in detail, such as the Nigerian huts, chickens and goats. A wonderful way to expand a child’s horizons.


"While you are reading, on the other side of the world, someone is getting dressed" begins this presentation on time zones. At 10 p.m. in Alaska, a mother and child are looking at a book. Meanwhile, it's 9 a.m. in Nigeria, where a girl is getting dressed. At the same time, it's 5 p.m. in Japan, where a boy walks home with his friend. The sentences of the text form an ongoing chain, linking images that are revealed in paired circles, a large round illustration on the left-hand page and a smaller one on the right, where the picture of a child is revealed by lifting a circular flap. Although children may catch the drift from seeing the colorful, stylized gouache paintings of children around the world, the book's central idea is best expressed on the back endpapers, where time zones are colorfully displayed on a world map and a few paragraphs of text briefly explain the concept.


Beginning and ending in Alaska, this book takes a snapshot of what is happening around the globe at the same moment in different time zones by showing children of various ethnicities engaging in the daily activities of their lives. While an Alaskan girl is being read a goodnight story at 10 p.m., a Thai boy climbs a tree at 3 p.m., a British girl milks a goat at 8 a.m., and three Haitian children slumber in one bed at 3 a.m. Each double-page spread illustrates on the left page what is happening in one country at that specific time and juxtaposes this with a small circle on the right page that is lifted up to reveal what is happening simultaneously (but at a different time) in another country. The following page then focuses on that country and introduces a third, and so on. Bernhard’s rich gouache paintings depict in loving detail a range of scenes from a village fountain in India, to traditional Nigerian dresses, to cherry blossoms alongside a Japanese country lane. This book would work well for students who already have a good grasp on how to tell time and would be best supported by a deeper understanding of geography and how day and night across the globe are affected by the earth’s rotation around the sun.

The Horn Book Review Magazine

A left-brain concept gets a right-brain treatment in this picture-book explanation of time zones. The book opens with a mother and child sharing a book; a thumbnail map says it is ten o'clock at night in the Aleutian Islands. On the facing page is a background map of Africa, with Nigeria highlighted; lift the flap to see where "someone is getting dressed" at 9:00 a.m. A page turn continues the chain, where the Nigerian child carries food through her village while across the page and under the flap in Japan, "someone is walking home with a friend" at five in the evening.

In all, nine simultaneous events are shown, from a child milking a goat in the UK at 8:00 a.m. to another sleeping in Haiti at 3:00 a.m. The concept isn't so much explained as laid out, allowing young children to engage with the book at whatever level can be managed (and adult sharers should be prepared for the tricky bit in India, where it's 1:30 p.m.). Printed on glossy cardboard stock, the gouache illustrations are all round frames and gentle lines, the circular nature of the story and concept echoed visually everywhere and given human interest by the detailed activities of the international cast.

School Library Journal Curriculum Connections

This charming book presents the concept of time zones so simply that even the youngest of readers and listeners will understand. Each spread depicts an activity and time in one particular part of the world with an accompanying lift-the-flap illustration showing someone involved in their work or play in another time zone. A sweet book for any occasion, not just to learn about time!


ISBN: 978-1-57091-473-7

ISBN: 978-1-60734-280-9 PDF
For information about purchasing E-books, click here.

Ages: 5-8
Page count: 24

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