Flatiron Books: The Guest Book by Sarah Blake

Sweet Dreamers

Whether in trees or in caves, in mud or the ocean, animals take their rest in myriad ways. Animals may sleep "vertically," like the humpback whale, or "rolled up, wrapped up," like the hedgehog "safely in his shelter." They might sleep like the snail "tight inside his twisting shell," with "dreams spiral[ing] out," or like "the spider... on a tightrope--/ the lacework pattern of his sleep/ hanging by a thread." Maybe they rest as the horse does, "standing up,/ in the middle of the herd" while "her thoughts break free."

Sweet Dreamers is a soporific bedtime book filled with distinctive facts and delivered in poetic language (translated from the original French by Sarah Ardizzone) that gets right to the heart of each of the featured animals. Each illustrated, double-page spread presents a close-up of the slumbering animal, along with a wider view of its surrounding habitat. Isabelle Simler's (The Blue Hour) digital art is comprised of lines of vibrant color that coalesce into shimmering images worthy of framing. Bold pinks, oranges, greens and browns are all grounded in a judicious use of black, conjuring up the magic of our natural world. Wordless landscapes are interspersed at regular intervals throughout, adding to the feeling of peace and repose. Additionally, the nonfiction material lends itself to use as an artful introduction to wildlife study.

Whether "slung like a hammock," "bundled into a ball" or "in full flight," all of the animals in this lyrical ode to slumbering take their rest with distinct flair, including the human child at the end, who "all night long... dreams beneath the moon." --Lynn Becker, blogger and host of Book Talk, a monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI