Quote of the Month

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

Friday, March 21, 2014

In The Land Of Dreams

Every parent wishes for their children a peaceful, deep rest each night.  Most will agree seeing their son or daughter (no matter their age) sleeping is perhaps the sweetest thing in the whole wide world.  It seems as though the bond between parent and child becomes even stronger in those moments; the act of sleeping is one of trust.   It's a condition when we are more vulnerable.

Caregivers may read favorite books aloud, insure treasured toys and cozy blankets are near or softly sing a beloved melody.  May The Stars Drip Down (Abrams Books For Young Readers, March 11, 2014) written by Jeremy Chatelain, a musician, with illustrations by Nikki McClure is a lullaby of love.  A boy's dreams are choreographed masterfully in words and torn and cut paper illustrations.

May the stars drip down light on you,
And you close your eyes to see the moon,
And sleep will pull you through.

From starlight the dreaming traveler walks across desert sands.  Winds shift the grains into new shapes.  Higher up they float to touch the stars, bathed in the light of the moon.

Caught in clouds a journey along a well-traversed trail in the mountains leads them along a lake.  Sounds of nature reach their ears.  Again a gentle breeze moves through the surrounding grasses.

In the distance lights in houses along the shoreline signal the close of day, giving way to darkness. Waves fall gently on the sandy beach.  The dreamer drifts over the ocean until dawn brightens a new day and words are softly spoken.

If you've ever stepped outside to see a nighttime sky filled with stars or a full moon illuminating the landscape, you can understand the calm conveyed in the chosen words of Jeremy Chatelain.  Each verse speaks to the tranquility found in certain natural settings; a desert, clouds coursing across a darkened sky, a mountain lake, a shore and expansive ocean stretching as far as the eye can see.  You can't help but feel the secure embrace conveyed in every line; the world is watching and taking care of its dreaming son delivering him home to his mother in the morning.

Every detail of this book has received the utmost attention by artist Nikki McClure.  The scallop-edged dust jacket covering only the lower portion of the book case are clouds across waving grasses, moths fluttering among them.  On the front a boy peeks over the top.  Beneath a full moon and stars a fox gazes outward on the back.

The two shades of blue and white on the cover continue on the opening endpapers.  A boy and his mother are nestled in his bed reading this book.  Noted items in his bedroom appear in later illustrations; an old bone, a starfish, a sea shell, a feather, an ocean, a stuffed toy fox and hand-made owl snuggly toy. The image on the title page a circle with blue dots (stars) acting as the background for the text is reversed on the first page.  Pinpoints are cut-out showing the lighter blue of the following page.

Each of the subsequent two-page pictures are absolutely breathtaking; stunning in every respect.  Nikki McClure chooses to shift her perspective from close-up views of faces and feet to panoramic vistas of desert, sky, a mountain and the ocean.  The boy's breath as he falls asleep in his mother's arms becomes stars. A feather floats across water under a setting moon.  When morning arrives a new color element in introduced into the illustrations, a soft, rich golden yellow.  The closing endpapers take readers back to the boy's bedroom.  A neatly made bed absent of him and his mother is ringed by all his boyhood treasures.

I would gladly frame any one of these gorgeous illustrations to hang in my home.  One of my favorites is the fox in the grasses around the mountain lake.  The serenity conveyed by the layout of an evergreen branch shadowed across the moon, stars circling outward toward a mountain in the distance is brilliant.  You can feel the gentle breeze and hear the crickets as the stillness reaches out to you.

Written by Jeremy Chatelain, May The Stars Drip Down, illustrated by artwork made with cut and torn black paper by Nikki McClure, should be on every bookshelf in homes and classrooms.  It's beauty will lull any reader into a state of harmony no matter the time of day.  The blend of text and illustrations is flawless.  I will be adding this title to my Mock Caldecott list for 2015.

Please be sure to follow the link embedded in Nikki McClure's name to her official website.  On the verso of the book a link is provided to download the song May the Stars Drip Down.  I've played it over and over and over.  You can hear a portion of it in the video below.


  1. Oh, gorgeous! Love Nikki's work. Can't wait to see this one.

    1. I was hoping you would visit my blog today to see this Jama. It's beyond beautiful.