When the World Is Dreaming
by Rita Gray, illus. by Kenard Pak
When the World Is Dreaming is a wonderful picture book for small children who are still learning their animals, colors, and sounds.
Rita Gray’s words are soothing, a rhythmic lullaby. Kenard Pak’s pastel illustrations set When the World Is Dreaming apart from other “bedtime” books. A young girl passes through the meadow, asking each animal what they dream. Little Snake, Little Deer, Little Newt, Little Rabbit, Little Mouse, and Little Turtle all dream their individual dreams.
The speaking voice changes throughout this picture book, which is a clever feat for a book for children so young. The narrator (also through the eyes of the illustrator) shows us a little girl with leaves and flowers in her hair and yellow rain boots on her feet wandering through the meadow. Upon meeting each little animal, the narrator asks the young reader or listener to imagine what the little animal might be dreaming.
“What does Little Deer dream
at the end of the day?
After the walking,
the grazing, the play.”
Then, each animal speaks. Here, the deer recounts her dream:
“Rushing rain from a rumbling cloud,
the sky is flashing; the sky is loud!
but tucked beneath our mushroom cap,
we’re safe from every thunderclap.”
The animals’ dream voices are illustrated in a chalky color. The refrain throughout the book is “Sleep, Little [Animal], safe and warm. Dream until the light of morn.”
At the book’s end, in one of the most dreamy illustration spreads, the little girl is tucked in under her covers, and all the animals keep her company on the covers.
The narrator ends with the same refrain:
“Sleep, Little Dreamer,
safe and warm.
Dream until the light of morn.”
Look for this book at your local bookstore on September 6, 2016.