cover image Nocturne


Jane Yolen. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-201458-2

In hushed, liquid language, this lullaby-poem whispers of ""the velvet night"" and its soundless stirrings. As ""a big moon balloon/ floats silent over trees,"" moth wings flutter, furry things ""creep through sleep"" and owls ""write silent passages across the sky."" Through resonant repetitions (""tucked up under eiderdown/ I nestle down, wrestle down/ my hullaballooning thoughts""), Yolen's text lulls readers into repose and soothing visions. Hunter's (Possum's Harvest Moon) double-page spreads rendered in watercolor, ink and colored pencil range from the literal (fireflies that ""shine through leaves"") to the interpretive (the ""quiltdown, quietdown velvet night"" depicted by silver-gray mourning doves, with heads nestled under their feathers). The artwork lends Yolen's poem a story context: a boy, a parent and a lovable dog take a nighttime stroll that later inspires the boy's sleep with dreams. While Yolen's poetry can stand alone, Hunter's captivating illustrations furnish the thread that ties her poetic images together as well as the soothing starlight mood. A book worth rushing to bed for. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)