cover image The Night Frolic

The Night Frolic

Julie Berry, illus. by Jaime Zollars. Little, Brown, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-316-59183-6

“Where do children go when they drift off to sleep?” This beckoning, otherworldly flight of fancy by Berry (Cranky Right Now) imagines a velvety realm to which children are carried “in silver ships over ribbons of moonlight,” sailing amid merfolk and through polar lands. After encountering the Night Tiger and her cubs, the Moon, and the Night Walrus, the kids arrive at a North Pole pavilion where the Night Elephant issues greetings and the Great Frolic begins. Holding musical instruments of all kinds, a dancing, winding throng of children and creatures spills out into the open, “sailing, soaring, somersaulting,” until “the Old Serpent that encircles the world” wakes, smiles, and reminds them to sleep, and a warm breeze sends the children “into their soft beds.” Zollars (The Truth About Dragons) illustrates the drift of dreamy, querying prose with candy-tinted, digitally colored art, portraying the assembled, gape-mouthed whirlwind of children with a variety of skin tones. Berry’s mesmerizing prose sounds like a saga from another world, and this vision of journey, adventure, and happy clamor offers both antidote to and fodder for sleep’s dark mysteries. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media. Illustrator’s agent: Stephen Barr, Writers House. (Feb.)