cover image The Dream Stair

The Dream Stair

Betsy James. HarperCollins Publishers, $13.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-022787-6

An Hispanic grandmother lovingly tucks her granddaughter into bed saying, ``This candle keeps you / safe in the dark, / safe in my heart. / and tell me all about it / in the morning.'' James's exploration of the child's dream world unfolds--an intriguing, nonthreatening journey. The girl ``leaves herself sleeping'' and in her dreams travels up ``past clouds, past angels'' to an attic room until ``the moon rolls over'' and she descends ``past furnaces, past roots, past rivers running in the dark'' to the safety and warmth of the cellar. As she ascends the stairs, whimsically chosen objects float around her--an angel in striped socks, transparent petticoats, balloons, even Abraham Lincoln in soccer shoes--and she seems untroubled by the dark images of the cellar room where fossilized fish adorn murky, cave-like walls. Offering a feast of cleverly interwoven images, Watson's fantasy pastiche is colorful and cheerfully surrealistic. Ages 5 - 7. (Mar.)