cover image Mother’s Song: A Lullaby

Mother’s Song: A Lullaby

Ellin Greene, , illus. by Elizabeth Sayles, original music by Paul Alan Levi. . Clarion, $17 (34pp) ISBN 978-0-395-71527-7

An adaptation of an old West Country lullaby, Greene’s (Billy Beg and His Bull ) text has a lovely, crooning lilt. Its verses extol how the child’s wonderfulness either equals or excels the wonders of nature: “There’s not a star that shines on high/ Is brighter than my baby’s eye.” These cozy sentiments get a shot of steroids in the unusual, anthem-like final verse, in which the mother is allowed a soaring, possibly rousing wrap-up: “Ten thousand parks where the deer run/ Ten thousand roses in the sun,/ Ten thousand pearls beneath the sea/ My babe more precious is to me.” Working in velvety pastels, Sayles (I Already Know I Love You ) imagines a mother and her child in a garden idyll; tiny fairies frolic around the pair, secretly preparing crowns of flowers and pearls for the lucky humans (who receive them unaware in a gatefold spread at the end). And while the romantically evoked forest landscape, complete with lily pond, and the dreamy palette of twilight blues and greens extend the maternal fantasy, the winged fairies come across as diminutive domestic help, soothing rather than startling. Arrestingly, Sayles uses the fairies to modulate the song’s hyperbole, countering the climactic buildup of the text with her tranquil visual storytelling. Ages up to 3. (Mar.)