cover image Boswell Wide Awake

Boswell Wide Awake

Alexandra Day. Farrar Straus Giroux, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-39973-3

The premise of this nearly wordless book is very simple: a boy gets up in the middle of the night, wanders through his house and yard, notices a few tasks that need doing, does them and returns to bed. Day turns this plot into something of a tour de force, bringing to her visual storytelling the same extraordinary tenderness and seamless blend of fantasy and realism that characterize her Carl books. Boswell is not a human boy but a bear, despite his beautifully appointed house and childlike behavior, and the animal casting sets the tone for the cozy nocturnal reverie. Dressed in ruby-and-sapphire-striped pajamas, Boswell tiptoes through the hall, realizing from the light under a closed door that his parents are still awake (""Shush, Toby,"" he whispers to his dog). In the aquarium, brilliantly colored fish still swim--until Boswell closes the curtains on the nearby window and blocks the intense stream of moonlight. Boswell (and Day) gently impose order: the cub turns off a light left on in the kitchen, in the process helping himself to a leftover piece of cherry pie; when he lets the cat out, he discovers his tricycle tipped sideways on the lawn, rights it and rides it into the carport. Every detail, from the trim on Boswell's pillowcase to the sloping ceilings to the dancing bears painted on the parents' headboard, suggests calm and comfort. The mood is utterly magical, and children will willingly place themselves under its spell. Ages 2-6. (Oct.)