Saturday, October 21, 2006

review: Water Beds

Water Beds by Gail Langer Karwoski. Illustrated by Connie McLennan. Sylvan Dell, 2005 (0-9764943-1-0) $15.95

For children who like nonfiction, this bedtime book offers an occasionally awkward but mostly pleasing combination of fact and fancy. A boy lying in bed hugging a stuffed dolphin--in a room enjoyably decorated entirely in marine themes--wonders what it would be like to sleep in the deep, deep sea. Glossy, highly-colored illustrations then show him sleep-swimming with orcas, curling up cozily on a harbor seal, and bobbing faceup like a walrus--always with his stuffed dolphin tucked nearby. The text soothingly describes some interesting and surprising facts about how marine animals sleep: "Sea otters doze above undersea kelp forests, wrapping the kelp strands around their tummies to anchor themselves in place. When it's very cold, they blanket their faces with furry front paws." For some reason, the pictures aren't completely consistent--the artist seems reluctant to depict the boy on his stomach, even when the animals clearly are--but the ones with the most similarities between animals and boy, such as when he is wrapped up in kelp with the otters, are truly charming. (4-8)