cover image POLAR BOLERO: A Bedtime Dance

POLAR BOLERO: A Bedtime Dance

Debi Gliori, . . Harcourt, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-15-202436-9

The star of Gliori's (Flora's Blanket, reviewed April 9) latest bedtime tale is a small caramel-colored bear who lives in a refrigerator on a handsomely manicured lawn. One sleepless night, "too hot to sleep," the cub joins up with friends of every species at the top of a hill, "a place where the wide-awake meet." There, it's possible to hitch a ride on an owl or bee, and fly through a lavender sky to see the world from a great height ("Over oceans and mountains,/ across rivers and streams.../ the Polar Bolero makes/ you dance in your dreams")—until, of course, drowsiness takes over. Then it's time to drop onto a cloud and float back home "to where someone cares." The central conceit of the "Polar Bolero" doesn't quite work: children will more likely identify the main action as flying rather than dancing, and Gliori's whimsical use of a bird's-eye perspective on the world underscores that notion. But her full-bleed spreads evoke a genial dreamland. By book's end, she has enveloped readers in much the same way that the bedcovers snuggle the sleepy protagonist. Ages 3-7. (May)