Dive into Dreamland


By Emma Barhydt

New Children’s Book Explores Where Ocean Creatures Sleep at Night

In the lush backyard of his Greenwich home, surrounded by fluttering butterflies, buzzing bumblebees, and scurrying squirrels, local and renowned children’s author Steve Simmons conceived the idea for what would become a beloved series of books.

“The idea from it started when I was in my backyard in Greenwich and watching various creatures,” said Steve Simmons, co-author of the Where Do Creatures Sleep at Night Series among numerous other children’s books, “and thinking that children come out and see these creatures during the day, but when the children go to sleep, where do the creatures go? Where do they sleep? And I thought that would be a very interesting concept for a children’s book.”

Fast forward to today, and the series has blossomed under the collaborative genius of Steve and his son Cliff Simmons. Their latest creation, “Where Do Ocean Creatures Sleep at Night?” was just released last month on April 16th, and dives deep into the aquatic world, exploring the mysterious nocturnal habits of ocean dwellers like dolphins, whales, and octopuses.

The father-son duo’s journey began with Steve’s solo project, “Where do creatures Sleep at Night?” which quickly turned into a family venture when he realized Cliff’s creative potential during the making of the first book. “The process in terms of how my dad and I worked together has only gotten better,” explained Cliff Simmons, son of Steve Simmons and co-author of both “Where Do Big Creatures Sleep at Night” and, now, the duo’s latest book, “just knowing one another’s work styles even more intimately and just collaborating more closely together.”

“Since we have such a love of the ocean, we thought it would be quite interesting for people to find out how creatures that swim in the sea, rest or sleep,” noted Steve. Their collaboration proved fruitful with the release of “Where Do Big Creatures Sleep at Night?”, focusing on larger terrestrial animals. This success laid the groundwork for their newest venture into the ocean’s depths.

“One of the things we especially liked about working on this book is that Cliff and I both love and experience the ocean,” recalled Steve, “We have kayaked with dolphins in the Pacific Ocean. We’ve snorkeled together at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Caribbean.”

The process, however, was as challenging as it was exciting. “I think that the research and discoveries that came out of it for this book, in my opinion,” said Cliff, “were even more unexpected and fascinating just personally to me, even more so than the previous books.”

Illustrations play a pivotal role in bringing their words to life. The talented Ruth Harper, who has been with them since their first book, continues to enchant with her vivid illustrations. “If you can see the very last illustration,” Steve pointed out, “she has a boy sleeping and she’s put each of the creatures featured in the book, in the boy’s bedroom on the blanket, on a little toy walrus there.”

Their latest book isn’t just a continuation of a successful series; it’s a bridge to a broader conservation message. “It’s so important for all young children to learn about sea creatures, create an interest in the oceans,” remarked Steve. The book concludes with a poignant author’s note on the importance of sleep, linking the restorative sleep of sea creatures to the energy children need to thrive.

Their passion for the environment and storytelling isn’t just about crafting engaging books; it’s about inspiring the next generation to appreciate and preserve the natural world. As the Simmons’ series grows, so does the awareness they foster among their young readers. Through the vivid tales of marine life and their sleeping habits, Steve and Cliff Simmons not only capture the imagination but also plant seeds of curiosity and stewardship for the Earth’s precious ecosystems.

As for their favorite creatures from “Where do Ocean Creatures Sleep at Night?” Cliff says, “I think the Parrotfish was my favorite one. I also really loved the Stingray, it’s a really fun one to work on as well, so I would say those.” Steve remarked, “I like them all. I love the sea otters. I love the humpback whale, but there’s so many to like in this book.”

We encourage you to buy these books (and many others!) at your local bookstore. Buying local really matters! Elm Street Books at 35 Elm St. in New Canaan, 203-966-4545 is clebrating 21 years. And the absolutely amazing Diane Garret at Diane’s Books at 8 Grigg Street, 203-869-1515 is celebrating 34 years in business.

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