In the Tree Top: A New Lullaby

Candide Jones, illus. by Steve Emery. Black Dog Cottage (blackdogcottagepublishing.com), $18.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-9965202-0-1
In a serene adaptation of “Rock-a-bye Baby” by newcomers Jones and Emery, a mother with flowing red hair lulls her child to sleep with promises of unending comfort, love, and devotion, using the metaphor of tree boughs and branches to suggest the child’s continuing growth and independence. Mixing angular shapes and bold colors, Emery’s watercolors show the mother catching her baby as he falls from a treetop: “When the bough breaks, I’ll be right there./ And I will catch you as you fall through the air.” As the song continues, the images become a dreamscape: a mountainlike formation takes on the characteristics of a bear, with other woodland animals camouflaged in the leafy greenery (an afterword invites readers to seek out these and other hidden creatures). Eventually, the baby grows into a shaggy-haired boy: “Trees grow up tall/ But love never stops/ Someday you’ll go climbing/ To the tree tops!” The more surreal imagery can feel jarring alongside the lullabylike aspects of the text, but Jones’s steady verse provides a soothing expansion of the familiar lullaby. Ages 4–8. (BookLife)
Reviewed on: 09/28/2015
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