For any parent desperate to get a bright-eyed, curious child to close their eyes for the day, While You Sleep provides a solution. Written by Jennifer Maruno with collage illustrations by Miki Sato, this enchanting book is sure to calm the most wakeful child into a dreamy sleep.
As the story opens, a little girl goes through her bedtime rituals, her mother at her side. When she closes her eyes, her plush stuffed bunnies come to life and go about the work of keeping the world shipshape. They must polish the sun, dust the butterflies, mend the clouds, and charge the rainbows. The busy bunnies take on their magical tasks with cheery efficiency, while the little girl sleeps and her watchful cat keeps one eye open.
Like all good go-to-sleep books, While You Sleep acts as a lullaby, soothing the child with the rhythm of the words and the sleepy, whimsical images, transforming the darkness of night into a magical realm where all will be well till the morning. The perspective of the little girl and her cat shifts with each scene: they are small among a garden of flowers, and then giant-sized as they look down on fields and houses. One of the most stunning illustrations is of a starry sky over a snowy landscape, where the girl hovers beside the Milky Way and the cat contemplates chasing the wool the bunnies are using to weave a blanket of darkness around the sleepy child.
Maruno’s delightful story about the industrious bunnies and the world that needs nightly upkeep is inspired and original, and her rhymes are sweet and satisfying. As the story moves along, it becomes apparent that the little girl’s sleep is just as important as the bunnies’ work. The child and her cat are intertwined with the natural world, creating a sense of belonging and security.
Sato’s use of collage is clever and inventive, and children will enjoy picking out familiar materials: cotton-batting clouds, a Milky Way made from felt, wool, and beaded threads, and gauzy fabric curtains that stir in the night breeze. While You Sleep casts a magic spell that will help lull little ones to sleep, and might just nudge a sleepy grown-up in that direction, too.