cover image My Thoughts Have Wings

My Thoughts Have Wings

Maggie Smith, illus. by Leanne Hatch. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $19.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-321458-3

How can one handle worries that crowd sleep out of the mind, asks poet Smith (The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison, for adults) in a metaphor-filled picture book debut. As a pale-skinned child with a furrowed brow looks up at their red-bathrobed mother, text describes thoughts that “stay on” after lights-out: “What if there are spiders in the house? What if I have a scary dream when I fall asleep?” Working in digital media whose hand-painted textures give a pastel-like roughness to the spreads, Hatch (The Brand-new, Never-used, Perfect Crayons) visualizes the fears: masses of arachnids under the bed, the child and a rabbit stuffy sucked up by an alien spaceship. Thoughts are like birds, Mom explains. Some want to nest, and the child’s head is “a beautiful place to live.... No wonder your thoughts don’t want to fly away from you!” What to do? “We need to make sure there’s room for the happy thoughts to build their nests.” Now, the two practice consciously summoning pleasant images (“I’m at the beach, eating an ice-cream cone”). Offering a portrait of a family addressing a child’s fears, this mindfulness-oriented work explores accessible techniques whose practice offers pleasure, too. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Joy Tutela, David Black Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Janine Le, while at Sheldon Fogelman Agency. (Feb.)