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Monday, February 18, 2013

All the Awake Animals are almost asleep, written by Crescent Dragonwagon and illustrated by David McPhail. Little, Brown and Company, Hachette. 2012. $18.50 ages 3 and up

"Kangaroo and
Koala are kin:
each curls up in his
mother's king-sized,
kid-sized pouch.
As the light laps
the leaves,
Lion lies down,
lounging low with
Lioness and the little ones."

Now here's a pairing of powerful people in the children's literature field. And, they prove to us why they are considered so!

It's bedtime and the story is the same...a child who is convinced he is not sleepy enough, and a mother who is equally sure that the time has come to succumb to slumber. Who do you think ends up on top in this contest of wills?

The mother is consoling:

"The answer, darling little child,
is every creature, tame and wild,
has night and day, has still and leap,
has wide awake and sound asleep."

She encourages her son to look to all the animals crowded around looking decidedly drowsy, and ready for bed. Thus, begins a warm and sleep inducing description of animals from A to Z. And it is alliterative, too:

"Baby bison has bedded
down beside her brother,
by the barn."
David McPhail’s watercolor-and-ink illustrations are as comfy and cozy as the quest to get the young child to sleep...warm colors, soft edges, all familiar to his many fans. His landscapes are equally conducive to nighttime slumber, offering soft moonlight and familiar surroundings for the animals depicted.

Young listeners are sure to find favorites in these pages; and with good luck and a touch of sand from the sandman, may barely remember this gentle rhythmic ending:

"And you, my little human one?
Since night is here and day is done,
and since you have a cozy bed,
a pillow for your dozy head,
with no more why and not one how
might you, like them, start sleeping now?"


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