Quote of the Month

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Hanging On To The Day

There are some days, make that most days, when you stretch every minute.  You are not ready to go to sleep.  Everything, big and small, feels important, sometimes downright magical.  If you are one of those glass-half-full people, a bunch of little things can add up to one huge spectacular day.

The grass overnight is frosted lacy white, a robin (Why has this bird not flown south?) sends out a morning chirp, book mail arrives, you take a nap on a pile of bedding with your sweet puppy, a cup of hot Good Hope Vanilla tea warms you from head to toe, a stack of picture books you read has you marveling at the gifts of authors and illustrators and the sun shines all day long before a sliver of moon glows brightly are reasons for putting off bedtime as long as possible.  It Is Not Time For Sleeping: (A Bedtime Story) (Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, November 1, 2016) written by Lisa Graff with illustrations by Lauren Castillo highlights a little guy who continues to welcome one more thing in his day's string of events regardless of how ordinary they are.  His outlook on the day's end will have you longing to join him.

When I've munched and crunched my last three carrots (except for one I fed to Jasper), Mom takes my plate.  
"It's been a good day," she says.
"It is a good day," I tell her.

In the boy's mind there is still plenty left in this day.  Sleeps need to wait its turn.  His dad remarks on the darkness of the sky as they wash dishes together but is it really bedtime dark yet?  Bath time and splashing with Jasper last until water wrinkles skin.

Clad in his favorite footie pajamas, covered in bears, the boy puts on his best bear act for his puppy pal.  It can't be time for sleeping.  It's not even close yet.  A playful teeth-brushing routine leaves him still convinced but wait...is that a yawn?

Jasper and the boy exchange beloved signs of affection as Mom does what Mom's do best at bedtime.  Dad becomes a teller of tales. It seems as though it is time for sleeping now but the boy is not quite ready.  There is one more essential thing never to be forgotten.  May the sweetest of dreams be granted to one and all.

With each interlude of the evening Lisa Graff supplies a rhythm of parental observations and the boy's replies.  As each activity is enjoyed the previous ones are added to the narrative reminiscent of a nursery rhyme.  By having the boy give the same answer each time, Graff opens the door, welcoming another stop on the trip toward sleep.  The blend of conversation between parents and child and the boy's point of view, provides a soothing atmosphere and allows readers to see the shared love.  Here is a passage.

When dinner is over and the dishes are scrubbed and
I'm squeaky-squeak clean and zipped up to my chin,
Dad holds me by my ankles while I brush my teeth,
top ones on bottom and bottom on top.
"Getting tired, silly goose?" Dad asks my feet.
I yawn an upside-down yawn.  "Nope," I tell him.

It is not time for sleeping. 

When you first look at the front of the dust jacket I know every single one of you will sigh.  The boy reaching for his dog Jasper and Jasper looking into his eyes is wonderfully charming whether you are a dog lover or not.  The spotlight effect draws our eyes exactly where they need to be; focused on this boy and his dog.  I don't know about you but I would love to wallpaper a bedroom in the star and moon wallpaper featured here.  To the left, on the back, five stars bookend a crescent moon.

The book case is a light sea green shade with a wide yellow spine.  The only element is on the front.  It's a silhouette of the boy and his dog, Jasper, looking at the reader beneath the title text.  The opening and closing endpapers are a dark midnight blue with the tiny stars' and moons' wallpaper.  On the title page the silhouette shown on the case is in full color under the text.  On the verso the dog and child are leaping and reaching toward the wording.

Lauren Castillo's signature heavier black lines edge all the elements in her illustrations rendered in

ink and watercolor on Arches Hot Press paper.

All of the pictures span two pages with the exception of four and the final page, a visual within a circle.  The heavier matte-finished paper is ideal for the textured effect created by Lauren.  It's as if you can feel the fabric on the clothing, the flooring, the fur on the dog, the towels, the flannel pajamas and the boy's bedspread patterned in clouds and red airplanes.

I adore every single picture in this book!  One of my favorite scenes is of the dad sitting in a rocking chair reading a story to his son.  Jasper is curled and sleeping at his feet.  Just enough light shines in back of the dad.  On the left-hand side the boy is snugged in bed with the covers up to his nose.  He is intently listening but starting to relax toward slumber.

It Is Not Time For Sleeping: (A Bedtime Story) a debut picture book for author Lisa Graff with illustrations by Caldecott Honor winner Lauren Castillo is a bedtime treasure.  I know readers will request repeated readings if they are not already asleep.  It's a lullaby of love.

To discover more about Lisa Graff and Lauren Castillo and their other works, please visit their websites by following the links attached to their names.  Lisa Graff and Lauren Castillo chat with each other at Watch. Connect. Read., the blog of Scholastic's Ambassador of School Libraries, John Schumacher.  Stop by Publishers Weekly to read Friends and Now Collaborators:  Lisa Graff and Lauren Castillo Interview Each Other.  You can get a peek at two interior images by going to the HMH Young Readers Blog.  Enjoy the tweets.

1 comment: