When Mermaids Sleep

Ann Bonwill, illus. by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. Random, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-375-87061-3

In a distinctive twist on the going-to-bed theme, Bonwill (I Don’t Want to be a Pea!) promises that the creatures of fairy tales and storybooks go to sleep just as children do. The verse holds few surprises, but it’s sturdy and evocative: “When mermaids sleep in oceans deep/ inside their coral caves,/ they lay their heads on seaweed beds,/ rocked softly by the waves,” she begins, as Johnson and Fancher (One Frozen Lake) offer a spread of two mermaids slumbering on a bed of coral, splashed with vivid pinks, limes, and lavenders that pop against the midnight blue of the ocean. Further on, pirates sleep against the gunwales of their ship, a mother and baby unicorn doze in a forest carpeted with light blue and pink leaves, and faeries sleep curled up in flower blossoms, bathed in moonlight. Sound asleep, Johnson and Fancher’s characters don’t engage readers; instead, they signal “don’t disturb.” Readers who intrude on them may feel the best thing to do is to turn the page and tiptoe on. Ages 3–5. Author’s agent: Marietta Zacker, Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. (May)