Astronauts Are Sleeping

Natalie Standiford, Author, Allen Garns, Illustrator Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers $17 (1p) ISBN 978-0-679-86999-3
Glowing planets suspended against the dark night skies of deep space set the stage for this dreamy picture book. In hushed, poetic phrases, Standiford (The Bravest Dog Ever: The Story of Balto) muses on what a trio of astronauts might see in their dreams (""Are they dreaming of the stars,/ Monstrous fires in blackest ink/ Clustered into galaxies?""), settling finally on visions of their childhoods on earth-a day at the beach, a walk in the woods, a snack by the fire as snow falls outside the window. The tranquil cadences of the elegant prose cast a hypnotic spell (""The whirling planets spin and hum/ And rock the astronauts to sleep""); coupled with the luminous pastels, the result is magical. Garns (Gonna Sing My Head Off!) makes exceptional use of space, and his generous, uncluttered sweeps of color and light have the effect of making the pages seem larger than they are. In one scene, the astronauts float beneath a trio of planetary orbs while stars twinkle in the distance; the depth of field is extraordinary, and gives readers the feeling that they, too, are drifting through the night. A stellar send-off for the slumber-bound. Ages 3-7. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/04/1996
Release date: 11/01/1996
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