{book} sweet dreams


DAY 06

Sweet Dreams by Rose A. Lewis, Illustrated by Jen Corace

Abrams Books, 2012.

I’ve seen Jen Corace’s work via illustration collector’s tumblr and pinterest accounts. She was on my mind as I was looking for Picture Books for this 31 Picture Books for 31 Days project. Rose A. Lewis’ Sweet Dreams looked pretty and bedtime is a good time for picture books so I brought it home from the Library.

Sweet Dreams is pretty, the soothing colors and striking lines in pen, ink and watercolor, most so deep and rich.  Ideal for its lulling bedtime rhymes, the illustrations lack anything that would stimulate wakefulness. Any movement is quiet and low energy, pages are not full of distracting objects to activate the mind toward any activity other than a sleep composed of the sweet dreams Rose Lewis is requesting of the young child. The pages are too pretty to be boring, but there is a noticeable stillness and focus. Illustrator Jen Corace draws the text no more. And the only thing “magical” is the softening edge on the depiction of nature at night. There is something of older and uncomplicated a time to the feeling the illustration; reminiscent of 1930s-40s children’s illustration (?).

The rhymes ask the child to “dream long and sweet,” all will be well. The moon is out to watch over things, and other creatures are readying for bed. And even those who are awake are meant to be awake, waiting for their own bedtime hour with the sun. Imagine not only the creatures bedding down after a busy day, but the (non-scary) night creatures and the lovely anticipation of morning. The story suggests the child should sleep long and deep, without a worry of waking with the sun—a time reserved for the early morning creatures to ready the day; which is a great (non-subtle) encouragement for those children who (like Natalya used to do) wake with the sunrise.

I liked the green footie pajamas the girl-child wears to bed, rendering her gender neutral and also a part of nature, as she is tucked amidst her animal stuffies and thoughts of the natural world. I thought the rhymes were lovely, even though it seemed an odd turn to talk about the night creatures rousing to start their “day”…Natalya would have likely suggested she was among these kinds of creatures instead. And then the brief departure of being just another part of nature to having nature created/prepared for you in the following day (“You see, they’re all quite busy/Making a new day just for you.”). What a nice incentive to stay in bed, I suppose, but the Eco-Critic I had to be for a very intense term woke. Friends and adventures set in the very real natural world—however magical it can appear—await their counterpart and—what? Few will find this objectionable, but rather, natural. I found it interesting—obviously.

Sweet Dreams winds back down into the dimming of the bedtime hour, where it begins: with a blessing of a good night; “Good night, my precious child, /May your dreams be long and sweet—/And full of great adventures/With the friends you’re soon to meet.” The child is nestled asleep in her bed among stuffed and real creatures alike, with the moon and the owl at watch, the bed transported in part to the field of moonflowers (similar to the cover).

Sweet Dreams is a solid sort of bedtime picture book find, with precious sentiment and pretty tones, in both text and illustration, to lull the listener. The recommended age is 3-5.

{all images belong to Jen Corace.}

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