At Night

Helga Bansch. Eerdmans, $14 (44p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5471-1
Originally published in Austria, this small-format bedtime meditation is two stories in one. In the initial arc, Bansch (Rosie the Raven) shows animals and one human boy sleeping in locations that are generally fitting: “At night, the elephant lies in the tall grass,” she begins, “the bird dreams in her airy nest, and the cat purrs behind the warm stove.” Mixed-media illustrations incorporate maps and other quirky details: as the bird sleeps, a tiny aviator tries to stay aloft using handheld wings and a hot-air balloon harness, and the “stove” that the cat curls up against looks more like a giant alien egg. Things only get odder when readers flip the book over: now the elephant is sleeping in the bird’s nest (nestled atop a house’s chimney), the cat “purrs in a burrow on a cushion of hay” that previously belonged to a rabbit, and the boy, named Manu, “sleeps on a cloud, and dreams of chocolate and raspberry ice cream.” The quiet, calming language and surreal (but never frightening) imagery may indeed pave the way for overnight dreams—strange ones, very possibly. Ages 2–6. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/06/2016
Release date: 08/01/2016
Genre: Children's
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