Thursday, August 22, 2019

Review - What Wonders Do You See... When You Dream?

What Wonders Do You See... When You Dream?
by Justine Avery
illustrated by Liuba Syrotiuk
Date: 2019
Publisher: Suteki Creative
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 35
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

The day has ended. Hasn't it been splendid? But now, it's time--to be sure--for an entirely different adventure.

This is an invitation to a new nighttime ritual, a going-to-bed book that reminds us all that bedtime can be the most wonderful time of all...

The spellbinding style and alluring rhythm of Justine Avery's writing are brought to life by Liuba Syrotiuk's dreamlike watercolor illustrations to inspire children and adults to set aside the day's excitement and drift into the adventure of sleep itself.

What Wonders Do You See... When You Dream? encourages calm and creativity, relaxation and imagination, and welcomes young and old alike to the blissful, magical time of bedtime.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I'm not sure what to make of this one. It just seems very uneven all around. Some parts of the rhyming text almost work... but others don't. Some of the illustrations are cute and dreamy... but others seem cluttered and chaotic with no real focus.

The text starts out seeming to want to rhyme, but there are points in the story where the rhymes are dubious at best, and other times when a rhyming scheme is abandoned completely. It almost sounds like beat poetry in a few places, and I'm not sure if kids really like that sort of thing. Also, I can't quite tell what the point of the story is supposed to be. That you go to bed and then have adventures? First of all, I'm not sure that's the best idea when you're trying to wind kids down to get them to sleep. Second, the book implies that only children dream, which is just weird (either that, or children are the only ones who have imaginations, which is also weird). To be honest, I couldn't quite tell if this book was advocating sleep and dreaming or encouraging children to come up with imaginary adventures right at bedtime. I think that could've been clearer.

There's also one page that could have some parents doing a double take if their vocabulary isn't very large, as there are a number of words that sound close to a particular racial slur:

Give the niggles a good wriggle, and stifle every sniggle.

The pictures themselves are kind of pretty at first glance. They're really colourful, the kids' pajamas are adorable (especially the girl's), and there are lots of things to look at. Perhaps too many. I was also thrown a bit by the random words on a couple of the pages, like "SLEEP" and "TOYS". Are they placeholders? Or are they supposed to be part of the illustrations? There's also a page that features creepy eyes under the bed, which could be a bit scary for some readers (it's not really explained what they are, so kids' imaginations might run wild).

Overall, this is a book that has potential, but I don't think it's quite ready just yet. The text (especially the rhyme and meter) needs to be cleaned up a bit, and the overall tone needs to be a little calmer. I don't know how many parents are going to appreciate a book that gets their kids all hyped up about going to bed. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Suteki Creative for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: 2/5
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.43 out of 5

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