cover image And If the Moon Could Talk

And If the Moon Could Talk

Kate Banks. Farrar Straus Giroux, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-30299-3

With quiet phrases and luxurious color, Banks and Hallensleben (Baboon) evoke a perfectly peaceful bedtime. In a stuccoed house, amid tranquil lakes and orderly rows of trees, a girl plays with stuffed animals and listens to a story read by her father. Far away, the moon glows on tall hills, desert, jungle and ocean, where people and wild animals prepare for sleep. Full-bleed spreads expertly relate the text's alternating descriptions of relaxed interior and exterior scenes. In the child's bedroom ""on a small table sits a glass, a wooden boat, a starfish, too."" Hallensleben connects the spread that follows, ""if the moon could talk, it would tell of waves washing onto the beach, shells, and a crab resting,"" with a painting of boats bobbing on a tranquil sea, whose color gently echoes the water glass on the bedside table of the previous spread. The story closes with the child tucked into bed and the moon whispering, ""Good night."" Hallensleben complements the hushed narrative with warm cushions of paint: the girl's thick blanket is egg-yolk yellow with orange-red dots and the pillows are as deep blue as the night sky. The outdoor panoramas have the same intimacy, whether they feature a lioness and her cubs, or a red tractor lumbering toward a yellow-lit farmhouse. As night gently envelops the landscapes, the words and art convey the snug warmth of a featherbed and a world as small as a neighborhood. Ages 3-5. (Mar.)