In this beautifully lyrical bedtime picture book, young readers will be whisked to a land where mermaids sleep and pirates snore; where fairies slumber on flower petals and a giant's sleepy sighs make the valleys rumble. Featuring dream-like illustrations by Society of Illustrators Gold Medal recipients Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, When Mermaids Sleep is an ideal addition to the bedtime canon.
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When Mermaids Sleep

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   In this beautifully lyrical bedtime picture book, young readers will be whisked to a land where mermaids sleep and pirates snore; where fairies slumber on flower petals and a giant's sleepy sighs make the valleys rumble. Featuring dream-like illustrations by Society of Illustrators Gold Medal recipients Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, When Mermaids Sleep is an ideal addition to the bedtime canon.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a distinctive twist on the going-to-bed theme, Bonwill (I Don’t Want to be a Pea!) promises that the creatures of fairy tales and storybooks go to sleep just as children do. The verse holds few surprises, but it’s sturdy and evocative: “When mermaids sleep in oceans deep/ inside their coral caves,/ they lay their heads on seaweed beds,/ rocked softly by the waves,” she begins, as Johnson and Fancher (One Frozen Lake) offer a spread of two mermaids slumbering on a bed of coral, splashed with vivid pinks, limes, and lavenders that pop against the midnight blue of the ocean. Further on, pirates sleep against the gunwales of their ship, a mother and baby unicorn doze in a forest carpeted with light blue and pink leaves, and faeries sleep curled up in flower blossoms, bathed in moonlight. Sound asleep, Johnson and Fancher’s characters don’t engage readers; instead, they signal “don’t disturb.” Readers who intrude on them may feel the best thing to do is to turn the page and tiptoe on. Ages 3–5. Author’s agent: Marietta Zacker, Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. (May)
Children's Literature - Elizabeth Fronk
The sleeping mermaids are rocked to sleep by the waves. Those waves also rock sailing ships where pirates snore. The pirates' treasure comes from distant lands where genies are slumbering. The sand of distant lands also supports towers where magicians gaze at stars. The stars shine down on a forest where unicorns rest. The forest's edge is near mountains where giants sleep. And the forest fairies sleep beneath a moon that shines in the window where someone is asleep and dreams. Throughout the book's poems, lush and textured illustrations accompany the four line poems. While the rhymed quartets could almost read like a cumulative tale, there is not enough repetition for a beginning reader. The illustrations have much texture and detail; they are the book's stars. The illustrations' lush color and detail can intrigue a kindergartener or preschooler. It is unfortunate that the poetry is not as compelling as the illustrations. While a kindergartener or preschooler reader seem to always enjoy reading about dreams and sleeping, this particular story's poems may not hold enough attention. The illustrations' color and detail might be enough. Reviewer: Elizabeth Fronk
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—Mermaids are sleeping in coral caves and, in that same water, pirates are snoring in their ship. In the trunks below deck, genies dream on sand in their lamps; that sand was also used to build sand castles where sea serpents sleep. The magical world is at rest: unicorns, giants, goblins, and dwarves. Readers discover that under the same moon where fairies are slumbering is a dreaming child. In this bedtime story, it is the illustrations that shine. The palette, while muted, is still lush and full. Collage is used to great effect to create texture; readers will be tempted to run their hands over the pages, hoping to feel the mountains and trees themselves. The full-bleed artwork spreads over two pages; one can almost imagine that the world extends past the confines of the layout. The dreamlike fantasy world is captured expertly. Unfortunately, the text is not as successful; the rhyming pattern is singsongy and the lines are often forced. They combine to make a challenging read-aloud; it is easy to trip over the words and the story becomes muddled and confusing. With stunning artwork like this, it is a shame that the text isn't stronger.—Laura Lutz, Pratt Institute, New York City
Kirkus Reviews
Rhythmic lines will lull youngsters who are fully immersed in fairy-tale lore into a dreamy state. The verse provides the progression, occasionally a stretch, from spread to spread. The waves that rock the mermaids also carry ships on which pirates sleep on trunks. These trunks contain treasures dug from sand. The castle is made of sand, and this is where wizards watch the night sky, and so on until readers encounter the sleeping child, whose ordinary room is seemingly touched by magic as a curl of stardust drifts in through the open window. Images of typically frightening creatures such as giants and goblins slumbering may remind children to put their problems to bed, that nothing can harm them, although younger, less sophisticated tots may find them a tad disturbing. These spreads are interspersed with scenes of the more expected and enchanting denizens of fairyland: The mermaids gently rock on seaweed beds, unicorns rest on pillows of leaves, and fairies are comfortably cupped in flowers underneath the moon--the same moon that shines into the child's room. Lush, jewel-tone illustrations feature rich patterns and are as luminous as if they too are touched by moonlight. Youngsters are sure to carry these images into their dreams. (Picture book. 3-6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375980961
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 5/28/2013
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 774,026
  • Age range: 2 - 5 Years
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

ANN BONWILL is the author of Bug and Bear, Naughty Toes, Pocket's Christmas Wish, and I Don't Want to Be a Pea. She lives in Virginia with her husband, their young son, and a crazy Welsh corgi dog named Arthur.

STEVE JOHNSON and LOU FANCHER, a husband-and-wife team, are the illustrators of over 30 books, including: Jim Henson: The Guy Who Played with Puppets by Kathleen Krull; The Boy on Fairfield Street, also by Kathleen Krull; My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss; New York's Bravest by Mary Pope Osborne; and Amazing Peace by Maya Angelou. Their book with Louis Duncan, I Walk at Night, was a New York Times Best Illustrated Book. They are also the recipients of a Society of Illustrators Gold Medal.
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