cover image All the Awake Animals Are Almost Asleep

All the Awake Animals Are Almost Asleep

Crescent Dragonwagon, illus. by David McPhail. Little, Brown, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-07045-4

Parents are wont to point out that just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t mean their offspring should, but Dragonwagon and McPhail provide a persuasive exception. When a small boy resists sleep, his mother points out that “every creature, tame and wild,/ has night and day, has still and leap,/ has wide awake and sound asleep.” While McPhail imagines that some of those weary animals are watching from the doorway and window, Dragonwagon offers an “alphabet of ways to sleep,” smoothly working in some alliteration: “Rabbit relaxes into restful repose, dreaming of ripe red radishes.” With meticulous inking and a palette of watercolors that glows with the soft colors of dusk and twilight, McPhail portrays an animal world where sleep is a welcome visitor and bedding down is an eloquent expression of personality. Each of his animal portraits is a beautiful mix of texture, detail, and mood, whether portraying a yawning, hulking yak or an otter who snoozes while clutching a looping letter “O” like a floatation device. Ages 3–6. Agent: Edite Kroll, Edite Kroll Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Faith Hamlin, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Oct.)