Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Nighttime Travels With Friends

There's no denying the power of Earth's closet neighbor.  Before, during and after a full moon, animals, children and even adults feel the power, a sort of restlessness.  In cloudless skies it illuminates the darkest landscape, bringing a mystical glow to fields, woods, neighborhoods and city streets.  It's hard not to be drawn toward its beauty.

For some, if not all, children, falling asleep, even after a day filled with activity, is not easy.  With the right friend and the right book though, the welcoming arms of peaceful bliss may come sooner than expected.  Dream Animals:  A Bedtime Journey (Random House, October 22, 2013) written and illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin is as cozy and comfortable as a treasured stuffed toy.

There are animals from long ago
And twice as far away.
Their maps are made of starlight
And can't be seen by day.

So begins the timeless trek taken each and every night by children everywhere.  Their daytime companion, a stuffed bear, turns real in the land of their dreams.  You never know where these special creatures will take you.  You might end up as a chef serving the likes of Humpty Dumpty, a robot, a werewolf or your bear friend a feast of treats.

Underground is a world filled with elves and fairies.  Your faithful fox might take you below to this realm of magic and mystery.  Two robins spinning on the mobile above your bed might transport you to flights of fancy.  Are those dinosaurs walking about beneath your feet?

Being a hostess at a tea party with mermaids, a ringmaster of an animated circus with extraordinary beasts or a gifted artist painting the stars themselves, will be the stuff of your dreams.  All you have to do is burrow among your blankets, close your eyes and believe.  Holding your best playtime pal can't hurt either.  You never know where you can go in your dreams.

A mood can be set, an emotion can be conveyed, in the particular arrangement of the right words. Emily Winfield Martin does this for her readers with the opening four lines of her tender, rhyming story.  She creates a joyous world where our imaginations have come to life.  Within these spheres we are guided by those animals of dreams, caretakers of children.  With her words we can easily feel the magic.  Here are two more examples.

...For a feast that never ends. ...

...Toward an elfin hollow...

Tonight when I go to sleep I'm going to make sure my hand is resting on my canine companion.  Perhaps she will join in the parade of animals taking their friends to their dreams, as shown on the opened book jacket by Emily Winfield Martin.  The soft, blue-gray sky, the sprinkling of stars among the puffy clouds, are the best kind of invitation.  The darker blue-hued cover is patterned in animal outlines representative of constellations.

In pale blue on blue the opening endpapers are peppered with stars; six small pictures feature children getting ready for bed.  Turning to the back, the closing endpapers, in the same shades of color show the same children sleeping.  These pictures will appear within the book too; outlined with tiny lines and starry corners, enlarged with text beneath the dreaming boys and girls.

Emily Winfield Martin opens her book with four pages, two page illustrations, in full color.  These paintings, even without the words, convey the trip to be taken.  For each child she has a single-page blue-tone illustration with text on the left, followed by a full color picture on the right, showing them riding to their nighttime adventure.  An exquisitely detailed two-page, edge to edge, illustration comes next, sometimes with words, sometimes without.

One of my two favorite visuals is the girl in the red polka-dotted dress, wearing tiny red shoes, hair flowing behind her, as she travels on her fox surrounded by fairies through the forest.  The other is of the girl wearing a crown of stars, kneeling on the point of a moon sliver among the clouds, painting a star as friendly helpers bring her paint, brushes and a ladder.

I know you will want to add this stunningly illustrated, charmingly worded title to your bedtime collection.  Written and illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin, Dream Animals:  A Bedtime Journey is a perfect example of bookmaking at its finest.  The dust jacket, book case, endpapers, illustrations throughout and text work together in harmony singing a lullaby readers will want to hear over and over.

Please take the time to visit Emily Winfield Martin's website and blog linked in her names above.  Here is a link to the publisher's website where you can see more illustrations from the book.  Enjoy the author video below.  I'm thinking it might to fun to have your children or students imagine what kind of dream animal they might have and where it might take them.  Wishing you all the sweetest of dreams.

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