cover image While I Sleep

While I Sleep

Mary Calhoun. Morrow Junior Books, $14 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-08200-0

Although both text and art of this quiet picture book have much to commend them individually, they seem to strain against each other for different effects. Calhoun's somewhat awkward text begins abruptly: ``Time for bed, dear. / Mama, does everything go to sleep at night? '' What follows is a predictable series: `` Where does the dog sleep, Mama? / While you sleep / the dog sleeps / flopped by the fire.'' Even boats, trains and planes sleep, the child is told, but ``the moon stays up all night to watch over you.'' Each spread consists of a dreamlike scumbled pastel illustration surrounding a dark square. The square containing the text and sleeping dog, e.g., is circumscribed by a yellow-and-green page where the dream dog is pictured running with an animal in its mouth. Even though Young's illustrations are visionary and striking, they seem too abstract for the prosaic text and for the intended preschool audience. Ages 1-up. (Apr.)