Ray’s (Stars) lullaby reads like a sequel to Goodnight, Moon, with the same offbeat humor and incantatory language extending to the farm and the forest beyond it. Animals are seen settling down for the night while a young bed goer in the farmhouse mirrors their actions. “Somewhere a beaver weaves a bed in a bog,/ Somewhere a bear finds a bed in a log.” Neal, in a reprise of the remarkable cutaway views of his Over and Under the Snow, shows the bulky bear at rest, while on the following page, the girl reads underneath her blankets, the mound of bedclothes echoing the curves of bear and log. The retro-style mixed-media artwork is created in the blues and roses of twilight, and the action swings between outside and inside. Repeated, pleasingly surreal lines of verse convey the sense of drifting into slumber: “Somewhere a worm sleeps in the dirt./ Somewhere a pocket sleeps in a skirt.” The worm emits delicate a row of z’s; so does the pocket. It’s a keeper. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Stephen Barr, Writers House. (Sept.)
* "Repeated, pleasingly surreal lines of verse convey the sense of drifting into slumber...a keeper."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review "A quiet book for sharing in a cozy setting."
—School Library Journal
"The blue-hued mixed-media illustrations soothingly depict a farm as it moves from dusk to night and bring a hush to the book—and no doubt its readers as well."—Booklist
"Christopher Silas Neal's lovely and serene illustrations, in matte twilight hues of blue and rose, suggest a sparkling nighttime world that is simultaneously vast and cozy. Clearly Ray has worked to make her language dense and [Margaret Wise] Brown-like, and at times you can feel a gentle incantatory force." —The New York Times
"The book begins at dusk, the sky slowly going from pink to blue to black and starry, the shadowy gray tones of the illustrations a consummate match for the restful mood of the text." —Horn Book Magazine
PreS-Gr 1—As night descends, a girl is getting ready for bed. "Somewhere a bee/makes a bed in a rose,/because the bee knows day has/come to a close." Each outdoor action of an animal preparing for sleep is mirrored by one inside: a bear ready for slumber in a log is juxtaposed with the little girl reading under the covers. Overall, the rhyming text is evocative, while some of the imagery is a bit whimsical. "Somewhere a worm sleeps in the dirt./Somewhere a pocket sleeps in a skirt." There is some disconnect among the title, cover, and text, as the cows, horses, and chickens are joined by owls, foxes, bears, beavers, and rabbits. The mixed-media illustrations are done in a muted palette composed primarily of blues, reds, and white and lend a sleepy, soothing, nighttime air to the story. Retro-styled, they evoke the "great, green room" in Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon. By the end, both the animals and the child are safely tucked in with the promise of dreams to come. A quiet book for sharing in a cozy setting.—Sara-Jo Lupo Sites, George F. Johnson Memorial Library, Endicott, NY
Ray and Neal tackle the tried-and-true theme of bedtime on the farm.Ray's work does have some lovely turns of phrase; "Somewhere a pocket sleeps in a skirt" and a reference to "minutes that sleep inside clocks" are standouts. But as a girl is tucked into bed while the farm and natural world settle down around her, almost-rhymes and spotty rhythms undermine the text's alternately lilting and halting efforts toward lullaby. Take the line "Somewhere a fox calls her pups to their den—as somewhere shadows tuck a house in." It almost works, but not quite. Meanwhile, Neal's mixed-media illustrations have a somewhat retro style and are appropriately dark and soothing, with soft visual textures and forms on each spread. Illustrations also strive to extend the text by resisting redundancy; for example, the line "Somewhere a bear" is accompanied by an illustration of a bear in the wild, but the page turn "finds a bed in a log" paired not with that same bear but a teddy bear and the girl burrowed under blankets. Perhaps a consistent continuation of this conceit, marrying nature scenes with parallel scenes in the girl's home (à la the Dillons' interpretation of Margaret Wise Brown's Two Little Trains, 2001) would have succeeded. It's difficult indeed for a bedtime book to stand out, and this one doesn't quite deliver. (Picture book. 2-4)