By Il Sung Na
In Il Sung Na’s first picture book, A Book of Sleep, he utilizes a mix of hand painting and computer enhancement to create soothingly beautiful art. Intricate designs and complex textures are etched into his bold, simple art and lovely little details implore the reader to fully inspect each spread. His rich, saturated palette captures the blue hues of night and, in the last two spreads, the golden brightness of day. The simple, direct text describes the different ways in which several animals sleep—an ideal topic for bedtime.
The book opens: “When the sky grows dark and the moon glows bright, everyone goes to sleep…except for the watchful owl.”
Over the next several pages, readers learn that some animals sleep in peace and quiet, other animals make lots of noises.
Some animals sleep standing up, while others sleep on the move.
There are animals that sleep with one eye open and some that sleep with both eyes open!
Some animals sleep alone; other animals sleep huddled in groups.
The sharp-eyed owl appears throughout the book—sometimes sitting plainly on a tree branch, other times hidden among the slumbering animals.
“But when the sky turns blue and the sun glows bright…everyone wakes up! Except for the tired owl.”
Na’s gorgeous art engenders peaceful feelings; the serene nighttime scenes will surely set the stage for little ones to demonstrate favorite sleeping positions of their own.
Jennifer Lavonier has lived in Jersey City for over fifteen years and has worked in the children’s book world for nearly twenty years. Prior to his death, she was the assistant to Maurice Sendak, the author and illustrator of Where the Wild Things Are. You can find more of her children’s book reviews on her website, TurtleAndRobot.com.