Snuggle Up, Sleepy Ones

Claire Freedman, Author, Tina Macnaughton, Illustrator , illus. by Tina Macnaughton. Good Books $16 (0p) ISBN 978-1-56148-475-1

When the sun sinks slowly in the savanna, it's bedtime for all the animal babies. Just like their human counterparts, the leopards, giraffes and others exhibit droopy eyes, big yawns and a desire to stay up just a little bit longer ("mischievous monkeys/ shout down from the trees/ 'It's not really dark yet./ Five more minutes, please!' "). What all little ones do best, however, is "snuggle up"—especially in the company of their feathered or furry siblings and mommies: "In the soft swampy mud,/ baby hippo, so snug,/ Cuddles up close/ for a big hippo hug." But author and illustrator bring little that's fresh to this familiar subject. The artwork has an under-realized quality; with the exception of one bravura spread depicting two lavishly quilled porcupines curled up into "one spiky ball," none of the animals has much personality, and their expressions seem content but rather blank. Still, Freedman's rhymes have a comforting lilt and Macnaughton's soft pastel animals portraits—set against an expansive sky that slowly changes from blazing yellow-orange to deep lavender-blue—are cute and snug. Ages 2-6. (June)