Shuteye: Sleepy, So Sleepy by Denise Fleming
TINY BABY ORANGUTAN
SLEEPY, OH, SO SLEEPY.
As the earth darkens, the world's tiny babies fall asleep close to their mothers, and in the hands of master picture book artist Denise Fleming, this common vignette is given its proper due.
Fleming's amazing colored wood pulp illustrations fit the simple, sleepy text perfectly--in glowing but muted colors, shaded by deep blue, in soft focus, showing only the faces of each sleepy baby, eyes at half-mast. Mother is always suggested in each illustration, as a sleepy baby elephant leans wearily against its parent's ponderous leg and a somnolent possum dozes with its siblings on mom's shaggy back; a joey's head droops as he dozes in mother's pouch, and a baby giraffe rests its head on its mama's generous neck.
After each three couplets, however, Fleming introduces a third line to the text:
WHERE IS MY SLEEPY BABY?
Fleming allows a gentle tension to build as this question remains unanswered as she goes on to show several more oh, so sleepy babies, until at last, after baby anteater drifts off to sleep, we get our answer.
THERE'S MY SLEEPY BABY.
There's a comforting resolution here, as a massively yawning tiny human baby's face is shown, followed by comforting human hands which tuck in the little one, with his companion sock monkey, with a just right "sleep tight, sleepy babies."
Fleming's brand-new Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy (Henry Holt, 2010) is one of those perfectly realized picture books where text and illustrations are near to being one, each page a jewel of creativity and sensitivity.
What a way to say good night!