Caldecott Medalist Pinkney (The Lion & the Mouse) taps into the curiosity and wonderment that define this nursery rhyme, following a chipmunk’s travels by day and night. Though four verses of the song are included along with the refrain, many of the spreads are wordless, leaving readers to decipher the inquisitive chipmunk’s wanderings. Rendered in pencil, watercolor, and colored pencil, Pinkney’s lush artwork is simultaneously naturalistic and whimsical. Like Mary Lyn Ray and Marla Frazee’s Stars, also out this fall, Pinkney takes poetic license with regard to what constitutes a “star”—morning glories, spider webs, fireflies, and water lilies all take on astral qualities. After climbing into a bird’s nest (a nod to “Rock-a-Bye, Baby,” per Pinkney’s artist’s note) that transforms into a boat, the chipmunk, now wearing a sailor suit, sails into the darkening sky in a dreamlike journey that later has him tumbling into a pond and being rescued by a swan. Pinkney’s flora and fauna are exquisite, as is his palette, dominated by rich earth tones and brilliant blues. Soothing and magical, this one should conjure some sweet dreams. Up to age 3. (Oct.)
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2011
A National Parenting Publications Awards Gold Winner
An Amazon Best Book of the Month Selection (October)
An Amazon Top Ten Picture Book of 2011
A University of Wisconsin-Madison CCBC 2012 Children's Choices Book
A 2012 Bank Street College Children's Book Committee Outstanding Book-
* "Pinkney's sumptuous elaboration of the familiar lullaby...takes on the same epic scope as his Caldecott winning The Lion and the Mouse.... Just another superb outing from a fixed star twinkling in the children's literature firmament."Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* "From jacket to cover to endpapers, every element in the book contributes to the dreamlike vision of a curious adventurer exploring the natural world. This appropriate theme for young children finds expression in a series of vividly imagined, gracefully composed, and beautifully detailed illustrations."Booklist, starred review
* "A stellar performance from a book-making virtuoso."School Library Journal, starred review
"Pinkney's lush artwork is simultaneously naturalistic and whimsical.... [His] flora and fauna are exquisite, as is his palette, dominated by rich earth tones and brilliant blues. Soothing and magical, this one should conjure some sweet dreams."Publishers Weekly
"Pinkney... brings a... sumptuous, color-saturated aesthetic to this reimagining of the familiar bedtime lullaby.... a free-form journey from woodland to dreamland."The New York Times
"Pinkney... brings a... sumptuous, color-saturated aesthetic to this reimagining of the familiar bedtime lullaby.... a free-form journey from woodland to dreamland."
* "From jacket to cover to endpapers, every element in the book contributes to the dreamlike vision of a curious adventurer exploring the natural world. This appropriate theme for young children finds expression in a series of vividly imagined, gracefully composed, and beautifully detailed illustrations."
PreS-Gr 1—In his latest re-imagining of a childhood classic, Pinkney focuses on the wonderment of a chipmunk. The endpapers, which open at sunrise and conclude with starlight, signal the time frame. The inquisitive creature's quest to understand both what and where stars are (verses alternate at appropriate junctures) begins from the safety of his cozy nest. As time passes he discovers the shape in natural phenomena ranging from star-imprinted morning glories and the dew on a spider web to flickering fireflies and the gleam in a swan's eye. His actions become progressively more daring: seeing a robin's nest in the tree, he ascends. The home subtly transforms into a boat, he into a sailor, soaring through the heavens, borne on the breath of an animated wind, then gently deposited on a water lily for a final adventure. Employing pencil, watercolor, and colored pencil, the artist skillfully captures the chipmunk in a host of poses and expressions, building a character worthy of visiting again and again. An opulent blue winds through Pinkney's dazzling compositions, providing depth, unity, and pure pleasure. This world is so full of interest that scenes break the frames of small panels and full bleeds until the conclusion, when circular compositions provide security. Nods to other lullabies, a subplot, and music are smoothly incorporated. Illuminating notes discuss how the notion of a lullaby serving as a bridge from a child's safe haven to the unknown dream world inform Pinkney's telling. A stellar performance from a book-making virtuoso.—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
In Pinkney's sumptuous elaboration of the familiar lullaby a chipmunk's nighttime odyssey takes on the same epic scope as his Caldecott winning The Lion and the Mouse (2009).
Seamlessly tweaking a later version of the multi-verse 1806 original with minor changes in wording and repeated insertions of the first two lines as a chorus, the illustrator follows a furry traveler—who is often posed as if in song—through verdant tangles of dandelions and other flowers, up a tree and into an empty robin's nest. With a turn of the page, that nest is transformed into a small boat (and the chipmunk acquires a sailor suit) that sails into the starry sky. The adventure briefly takes on an anxious cast when a gust topples the tiny explorer into a pond of much larger fish and other creatures, but a swan glides to the rescue and gently wings its little passenger up to the smiling Moon. Rendering natural details with typical accuracy, Pinkney fills his intimate watercolor close-ups with rippling leaves and rhythmic shifts of color that simultaneously create a feeling of active, if dreamlike energy while echoing the poem's quiet cadences. He intersperses wordless interludes, either single pictures or short sequences, to create a unified story line and finishes with a final view of the dreamer curled up (still in that sailor suit) on a bed of soft leaves and down.
Just another superb outing from a fixed star twinkling in the children's-literature firmament. (afterword) (Picture book. 3-6)