From French author and artist Isabelle Simler, creator of The Blue Hour and other nature books worthy of contemplation, comes an enchanting book for 4 - 8 year olds about how animals dream. With the help of translator Sarh Ardizzone, she carries us gently through the world of dozing animals, starting with the sloth who reaches in sleep for experiences beyond daytime reach:
"Slung like a hammock,
the sloth dreams
of spring-loaded sprinters,
of rockets blasting off,
of pump-action spinning tops.
When the stopwatch starts,
our dreaming racer
This opening matches the intensity of children's active days while inching them toward sleepiness with a creature who, as poet Theodore Roethke puts it, "in moving slow ... has no peer."
From whales and robins to hedgehogs and ants, Simler mingles bright, warm colors with dark backgrounds to capture attention yet soothe tired minds. Often she offers a spread of illustration only, like one of a pond flanked by grasses and lotus flowers, gentle orange lights shining in its waters.
Along the way, children are drawn not only toward sleep but toward a deeper kinship with animals. Who knew that the humpback whale sleeps vertically ("ballerine nosedivers")? Or that ants gather "hundreds of quick naps"? Yet anyone and, we imagine, everyone will be smitten by Simler's koala smiling in its sleep, entranced by her octopus' orange tentacles, and relaxed by her wolf whose "piercing eyes slowly close as he lies on his bed of cool grass."
This kinship will serve children well as they grow into their role of guardians of Earth and her creatures. Adults who read to them will likewise be given a boost of love for the animal kingdom, the best possible foundation for all ecological efforts to preserve what we've been marvelously given. We salute Isabelle Simler for this latest book and all her reverent offerings.