Leave Your Sleep

Natalie Merchant, Author, Barbara McClintock, Illustrator
Selected by Natalie Merchant, illus. by Barbara McClintock. FSG/Foster, $24.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-374-34368-2
Reviewed on: 10/22/2012
Release date: 11/13/2012
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In 2010, singer-songwriter Merchant released the recording Leave Your Sleep, a set of songs adapted from poems for and about children. As the title suggests, these poems—from the likes of Ogden Nash, e.e. cummings, and Charles Causley—carry a hint of the uncanny, and Merchant enthusiastically engages with klezmer, Dixieland jazz, zydeco, and other musical styles. “[P]oetry on the page can be difficult to penetrate; sometimes it needs to be heard,” Merchant writes in her introduction to this print compendium, which provides 19 poems (seven fewer than the album) and a tie-in CD. McClintock contributes nostalgic illustrations that evoke the 1860s to 1920s. Fittingly, Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Land of Nod” leads the selections, and McClintock offers a quaint forest path, complete with dainty mouse parade, insect orchestra, and wonderland child. McClintock channels Randolph Caldecott in her sequence of circus pictures for Rachel Field’s “Equestrienne” and recalls the collaborations of Shepard and Milne when she illustrates Edward Lear’s “Calico Pie.” As curious as can be—in the Victorian sense of the word—this collaboration transports readers and listeners on multiple sensory levels. All ages. (Nov.)
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