cover image In the Night Garden

In the Night Garden

Barbara M. Joosse, , illus. by Elizabeth Sayles. . Holt, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-6671-5

Three girls perform their best animal imitations by the light of the moon in this fittingly dreamlike bedtime book. Trees, plants and picket fence in the yard provide the shadowy, silver-lit backdrop for one girl, who forages and roars like a bear; a second, who floats and sings like a whale; and a third, who howls as if she's a sleek sled dog in the snow. Their imaginative romp is temporarily interrupted by an unseen adult's call of “Bedtime!” but the girls simply move the game inside, staying in character as they tuck themselves in and soon nod off. Joosse's (Mama, Do You Love Me? ) poetic text captures striking animal characteristics with vivid adjectives and fun-to-sound-out words like “How-how-howl” or “Eeee-eeee-eeee.” Sayles's (I Already Know I Love You ) blend of acrylics and pastels, dominated by shimmery blues, greens and whites, have a gauzy look, suggesting a quasi-magical time where waking slips into peaceful sleep. Her girls and wild creatures joyously sweep and swirl across the pages, offering readers a jumping-off point for their own dreams. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)