cover image Sleep, Little One, Sleep

Sleep, Little One, Sleep

Marion Dane Bauer. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-82250-6

This lyrical, soporific book will help induce drowsiness in even the most active readers. While this author-artist team explored what form birth takes for a variety of animals in If You Were Born a Kitten, for this companion volume they take a more abstract approach. Rather than describing how nature's inhabitants sleep, here sleep itself is personified via an array of animals: as a bird, when ""Sleep gathers you beneath its feathery wings,"" and as a lamb that ""grazes softly around your bed."" The images ease readers and listeners from a visual world into an imaginary and tactile one. Stammen's (A Snow Story) pastel spreads eloquently give form to the metaphors: lambs graze in a moonlit meadow, a polar bear cradles its yawning young, a blue whale can be dimly glimpsed through a haze of bubbles. Occasionally the tone sounds more emphatic or cautionary than peaceful, as in the words accompanying a picture of a lumbering tortoise: ""Be patient. Sleep will come,/ trudging closer, closer, careful and slow./ Just you wait!/ Just you wait!"" And the final repetition, ""Let it come./ Please... let it come!"" seems to evoke the desperation of parents who've run out of ideas to lull their child to slumber. But a soothing tone of voice will smooth out such subtle changes in the mood of the text. Just like the little girl pictured in the closing pages riding on a polar bear, sweet dreams are sure to follow. Ages 1-4. (Sept.)