cover image Bayou Lullaby

Bayou Lullaby

Kathi Appelt, Karel Appel. HarperCollins Publishers, $16 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-12856-2

Like the easy, winding bayou, slow Cajun rhythms swing through this night song: ""Rockabye you bayou gal,/ Cattails be a-swishin'/ Softly sigh, oh bayou gal,/ On a star be wishin'."" Appelt weaves regional details with universal images that summon up the floating, swaying sensations of sleep: a ""pirogue"" (boat) gently bobbing ""atop the water chocolat""; a bullfrog's voice stretching in crescendo (""King Armand be whistlin'/ To crawdads 'neath the waves""), then quieting toward dawn; water wending toward the sea through the dark tangled roots of cypress trees. Distinctive speech rhythms and rhymes rest lightly on the ear; nouveau Cajun devotees will find a helpful glossary of six important words (the term ``Cajun,'' however, receives no definition). Waldman's art (The Tyger; Light) seems more playful and more dynamic here than previously. Against the black of night, his stylized acrylic paintings extend their blue palette toward violet and green. An inspired pairing of author and artist. Ages 2-up. (Mar.)