cover image While You Are Sleeping

While You Are Sleeping

Mariana Ruiz Johnson. Chronicle, $16.99 (36p) ISBN 978-1-4521-6599-8

Painted in brilliant folk-art hues, Argentinian illustrator Johnson’s wordless story starts with a view through a window. Inside, a mother reads to her golden-haired son, then tiptoes away after he falls asleep. Now the view pulls back: the boy’s parents share wine downstairs, a girl cycles by, and a jaguar and a deer play music together on a nearby rooftop. The view again widens to reveal more buildings—the city night is alive with activity, and the two brightly colored animals are joined by four more. (Observant readers may have spotted them earlier in the story.) They strike out across a placid sea in a red dugout and head for a primeval wilderness, where they light torches and make a bonfire in the dark. At last their dancing makes the bonfire rise up into the sky: it’s the morning sun. Back in the city, the boy awakens. The story’s easy slide from reality to myth and back again recalls the magical realism of authors like García Márquez—and more stories are hinted at in the windows that fill the boy’s neighborhood. Ages 3–5. (Jan.)