Written by Jim Averbeck, Illustrated by Tricia Tusa
Harcourt, Inc., 2008
In a blue room, Alice bounces, wide-awake past bedtime.
The plot in a nutshell: A girl declares she can only sleep in a blue room.
Alice’s mother brings flowers into her room and Alice points out that they aren’t blue. Mama asks her to smell them and she breathes them in. Mama brings her a cup of tea, which Alice points out is also not blue. Mama asks her to taste it and she has a sip. Mama brings in a soft and warm quilt, which she asks Alice to touch. Alice snuggles into it. Mama hangs some bells in the window that are not blue, but Alice is yawning and drifting off too much to argue. Mama turns off the light and the moon comes through the window, covering all of Alice’s room in blue light. And Alice falls fast asleep.
This was the debut picture book from author Jim Averbeck and it’s delightful. It may seem a little confusing on the first read, because Alice’s room is a bright yellow with hardly any blue in it. But when it all comes together at the end, it not only makes sense, it leaves you with a sense of calm and relaxation. Alice’s mother engages all of Alice’s senses as she brings in things for her to see, smell, touch, taste and hear. And each of these things is a color other than blue, but when the moon touches it, it becomes part of her nighttime room. This is a nice reminder that the things that seem strange in the moonlight are the same things that seemed ordinary in the regular light.
Tricia Tusa’s illustrations are done in ink, watercolor and gouache and, as you may imagine, the colors are a very important element of the artwork. Her artistic style is fun and playful, which works well with Alice’s inability to settle down. Of particular interest is her blue blanket, which has the moon and stars on it. When the light goes out, the stars and planets leave the blanket and drift up into the sky and our point of view goes with them. We see Alice’s house sitting on planet Earth and then we pull back even further, so that our planet is just a blue dot in the sky, which suggests that we are all part of that ‘blue room’ and that is a lovely thought.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that the moon has a knack for putting everything in the perfect condition for us to go to sleep.