It’s a rare and happy occurrence when two legends in children’s literature combine their creative talents. Patricia MacLachlan, who won the Newbery Medal for her lyrical novel Sarah, Plain and Tall, and Caldecott and Newbery medalist Tomie dePaola, author and illustrator of many classics including Strega Nona, team up for a sweet, lyrical bedtime story about animals and insects preparing for bed. The human characters are the mime Pierrot and his child, who venture out to watch night fall—and to wait for the moon to appear.
And what a gorgeous, lovely evening it is. DePaola’s acrylic paintings feature a calm, peaceful palette, replete with gentle, robin’s-egg blues and soft greens. As the sky deepens and darkens, the text color changes from black to white.
MacLachlan’s rhyming text is spare, leaving lots of space for the paintings to work their magic as the two humans, both dressed in white, venture outside to gaze at the sky.
“‘The moon’s almost here,’
Clucks plump mother hen.
Chicks settle under her,
Safe in their pen.”
Pierrot and the little child also visit a duck family, cows, horses and a robin singing her babies back to the nest before they welcome a vibrant full moon, which nearly fills one entire page. The story ends with Pierrot holding the sleeping child. And no doubt, young readers in laps will also be drifting off, comforted by this simple, enchanting lullaby of a book.
Deborah Hopkinson lives near Portland, Oregon. Her most recent book for young readers is A Bandit's Tale.