Written and Illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin
Random House, 2013
There are animals from long ago
And twice as far away.
Their maps are made of starlight
And can’t be seen by day.
The plot in a nutshell: Animals carry children to their dreams
Because Dreamland is far away, children rely on dream animals to transport them to the world of their dreams. A bear takes a boy to a table of strange creatures for a huge feast. A fox takes a girl to the underground home of elves and pixies. A pair of robins brings a brother and sister up into the sky where they can fly and view the world below and a narwhal carries a girl to the ocean floor for tea with mermaids. A tiger takes a boy to a circus where he’s the star and a giant moth flies a girl up into the night sky where she helps to paint the stars. The book ends with a reassurance that these magical friends always know the way to your dreams and hopes your dreams are sweet.
This is the first picture book from author/illustrator Emily Winfield Martin and it’s a perfect book for reading at bedtime. The rhymes are gentle and rhythmic, with a cadence that’s calming even when you read it to yourself. The idea of being carried to a lovely dream world on the wings of a giant moth seems predisposed to make you ready for a good night’s sleep. (For those of you prone to daydreams, the author followed this book up with a companion book called Day Dreamers.)
But it’s the artwork that’s the real star of this book, in so many ways. We get to see each child in a monochromatic drawing of them asleep, with an animal (stuffed or represented in a mobile or nightlight) nearby. In each case, this animal becomes their dream animal in gorgeous full color artwork on the next page. We see them in transit and then we see them in their dreamland destination. It’s a diverse group of children here and a few non-traditional animals as well, giving the whole book even more of an ethereal quality that just adds to the growing list of reasons that this book is perfect for bedtime.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that every dreamer can use a little help now and then.