cover image Norther Lullaby

Norther Lullaby

Nancy White Carlstrom. Philomel Books, $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-399-21806-4

Much like the classic Goodnight Moon , but with a nod to Alaskan wilderness and lore, Carlstrom's latest picture book is a gentle hymn about preparing for bedtime and the magic of nightfall. A child lovingly bids au revoir to the many extended family members he sees in nature: ``Goodnight Papa Star /Goodnight Mama Moon / Bending your silver arms / down through the darkness.'' The non-rhyming quatrains of Carlstrom's poetry possess a soothing, lilting quality, perfect for quiet reading times. In sync with her expression of the philosophy of Alaska's native peoples--we are one with all living things--the Dillons have masterfully personified earth and sky. A tiny stone cabin, chimney smoking, in the foreground of each scene gives perspective to the sweeping, iridescent paintings. Cool nighttime hues of blue, purple and green cloak a cast of brown-skinned Alaskan natives. Stars and snowflakes shimmer in the black sky, while a blanket of white snow reflects colors with a silvery glow. Typifying a child's point of view, Grandpa Mountain is depicted as an old man straightening his nightcap, while Auntie Birch is a generation younger, and Sister Owl is shown as a child. The Dillons' work here most closely resembles their style in The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks , though each book has a distinct ethnic flavor. Refreshingly, this title's multicultural elements are informative without being intrusive: Alaskan figures wear native dress that includes elaborate animal costumes embellished with traditional geometric designs, though the peoples' origins are not belabored in the text. Literal-minded young readers may have questions about the interpretation of nature here, but this small point is hardly a detraction from this stunning, seamlessly executed work. Ages 3-8. (Oct.)