cover image How Does Sleep Come?

How Does Sleep Come?

Jeanne C. Blackmore, illus. by Elizabeth Sayles. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4022-7105-2

The starry cover and its curly, romantic lettering shout “bedtime book,” and the sentimental writing from first-time author Blackmore (granddaughter of children’s book creator Roger Duvoisin) has a familiar sound, too: “Sleep comes quietly. Like a snowfall that blankets a meadow on a dark starry night and lays down a soft white canvas for rabbits to leave footprints.” But it’s a distinctive piece of work; Blackmore has carefully polished her prose’s rolling, soothing rhythm, beginning with adverbs that describe how sleep comes and finishing by knitting them into one long, hypnotic final sentence: “And quietly, silently, softly, peacefully, gently, Jacob fell asleep.” Sayles (Moon Child) imagines night as a star-spangled curtain that parts to reveal Jacob’s living room, then as a midnight blue cape Jacob wears as he sails a boat across a luminous full moon. Blackmore doesn’t try to jolly children to sleep or search for a new bedtime angle; instead, she assembles the softest, most comforting elements she can find, while Sayles provides spread after spread of safe, cozy pictures. If that’s not a recipe for sweet dreams, what is? Ages 4–up. (Sept.)