Friday, May 16, 2014

The Big Book of Slumber by Giovanna Zoboli, illustrated by Simona Mulazzani, translated by Antony Shugaar

I originally borrowed this from another library, gave it a quick skim, was not particularly impressed and meant to return it quickly. When I got a review copy from the publisher, I took another look and as I read it more thoroughly I gradually came to like it a lot more. In fact, I even love parts of it now. The moral being, if you want me to like your picture book, send me a review copy so I feel obligated to spend longer looking at it (-:)

The "story" is a series of rhymed couplets that show animals sleeping in silly or fantastical ways. A series of four couplets will start with "hushaby lullaby" or something similar, and each page has four couplets. For example,

"Hushaby, lullaby, pillows and sheets.
Cozy young fox is all warm, but her feet.

Doves in the branches and bug on the bark --
only old owl guards them all in the dark.

(next spread)

Crocodile slumbers while counting up sheep.
From frog, toad, and teddy -- nary a peep.

Dormouse and badger in beds side by side.
'I like your pajamas,' friend badger confides."

The pictures have a definite European feel with slightly odd perspectives and a cheerful variety of colors and patterns. The various sleeping animals seem like they're sprinkled about the background, with seals sleeping in trees and flowered dolphins placed against the water. There isn't a definite plot or theme to the book, which I think was what threw me off when I first skimmed through, but as I read it again, and read it aloud, I can see the dreamy pictures and gently lilting poetry lulling a child into sleep.

Verdict: This might have a few fans who will enjoy looking at the animals and the pictures, but this is mainly going to be popular as a bedtime story, a soothing read to enjoy together between a parent and child.

ISBN: 9780802854391; Published April 2014 by Eerdmans Books; Review copy provided by the publisher; Donated to the library

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