Night Garden: Poems from the World of Dreams

Janet S. Wong, Author, Julie Paschkis, Illustrator Margaret K. McElderry Books $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-689-82617-7
In this absorbing volume, Wong (A Suitcase of Seaweed and Other Poems) and Paschkis (Play All Day) examine the familiar yet surprising qualities of dreams. The poems recall a weightless feeling of flying, an anxious sense of being late or an unexpected visit from a dead or living acquaintance (""I had forgotten you, friend./ Is that why you came/ into my dream?""). ""Gently Down the Stream"" alludes to the phrase ""life is but a dream"" and describes swimming in clear water; the accompanying illustration pictures a sinuous orange-and-turquoise fish with a peaceful human face. Wong seldom abides scary dreams, but she does include ""a news-at-seven true nightmare,"" which Paschkis supplements with beastly imagery of snakes and howling sleepers. Paschkis's gouaches at times suggest an illuminated manuscript, elements from medieval tapestries or elaborate Arts and Crafts-era wallpaper. The artist responds to each poem with a multicolor image framed within a monochromatic, repetitive motif. She creates a host of weird creatures, from a hunched man in a long-nosed white mask to a turnip-headed being with pea-pod arms; to indicate the mysterious workings of the imagination, she shows strange flowers sprouting from a restful figure. Paschkis's swirling imagery and Wong's quiet yet haunting words skillfully simulate the reveries they recount. Ages 7-10. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/2000
Release date: 03/01/2000
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