cover image Sleepy Boy

Sleepy Boy

Polly Kanevsky, , illus. by Stephanie Anderson. . Atheneum/Jackson, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-86735-4

With its exquisite artwork and mesmerizing text, this bedtime book is simply enchanting. Anderson's (Weaving the Rainbow ) watercolor and charcoal paintings bring to mind Mary Cassatt's portraits of children, but they are suffused with a remarkable golden Renaissance light. "Here is a boy who will not sleep," begins the book, as readers see just the boy's toes; a turn of the page puts the view in context—a restless boy with his feet propped on the headboard of his bed as he reflects on his day watching lions at the zoo. Another spread reveals only the boy's wide-open eyes, with the reflected image of a lion cub, a recurring visual motif. First-time author Kanevsky describes the fidgety boy's thoughts with sensitivity and minute detail as he feels "his eyelashes/ making tiny movements,/ fanning the air under his eyes." Anderson blurs the distinction between the boy's real and imagined worlds with a palette that echoes the lions' fur and with images of the cub trying to climb onto the boy's bed or looking out the window. Finally, the boy hears the cub's low purr and they fall asleep together. The father's tenderness as he caresses his son's head on the book's startling cover painting is in harmony with the alert watchfulness of the lioness as she mothers her cub. Ages 2-5. (May)