Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Leave Your Sleep

Leave Your Sleep

Natalie Merchant
Illustrator:   Barbara McClintock 
Poetry Picture Book (with an audio CD of songs)
For ages 5 to 7
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR, 2012   ISBN: 978-0374343682

In 2010 singer and songwriter Natalie Merchant released a two-disc album. For the album she adapted 19th and 20th century American and British poetry for children and turned them into new songs. The project took five years to complete, and was a true labor of love that Natalie Merchant immersed herself into, heart and soul. Natalie chose poems that were “parables with lessons on human nature and bits of nonsense to challenge the natural order of things...”

After the release of her album, Natalie was contacted by Frances Foster, an editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, who wanted to take her songs and turn them into a picture book for children. Thus it was that Natalie’s songs, which are a celebration of the written word, were paired with Barbara McClintock’s lush, colorful, and wonderfully detailed artwork.
On the pages of the book readers will travel with a little girl to the land of Nod, as described by Robert Louis Stevenson. The little girl wanders beside streams and “up the mountain-sides of dreams,” and sees all manner of strange and sometimes “frightening sights.” The sad thing is that try as she might, the little girl can never get to the land of Nod “by day.” Nor can she “remember plain and clear / The curious music that I hear.”

Then there is the tale of Isabel, who met an enormous bear, an old witch, a “hideous giant,”
and a “troublesome” doctor. All of these encounters could have ended very badly for Isabel, but thankfully the little girl was not the kind of child to worry or “scream or scurry.” In every instance, Isabel very firmly, yet calmly, dealt with the threat.

This book is, without a doubt, a real treasure. It is a joy to read and a delight to look at, and would make a wonderful addition to a child’s library of ‘treasured books’.