cover image Time Now to Dream

Time Now to Dream

Timothy Knapman, illus. by Helen Oxenbury. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-9078-6

Playing in their yard on the edge of a forest, Alice and her younger brother, Jack, hear a strange noise wafting from the woods: “Ocka by hay beees unna da reeees.” Jack is certain that it’s the Wicked Wolf, but Alice insists they explore (mindful of her big-sister duties, she holds Jack’s hand and promises him several times that “everything is going to be all right”). Oxenbury’s (Captain Jack and the Pirates) watercolors, rendered in pale yellows and greens, hark back to similar journeys in classic fairy tales. The eerie noises continue—Knapman (Dinosaurs Don’t Have Bedtimes) devises more weird but oddly familiar words—the forest darkens, the Wicked Wolf looms larger in Jack’s imagination, and Alice panics. Finally, their nemesis is revealed, in Jack’s words, as a “mommy” wolf “singing her babies to sleep.” Turning the page, readers see a huge wolf lovingly crooning to her trio of adoring, drowsy pups, framed by soft green leaves. It’s impossible not to linger on this image and savor its poignancy. The delicious escalation of suspense is replaced with a quiet sense of wonder, making this story a winner. Ages 3–7. (Mar.)