Nine O'Clock Lullaby


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About the Author

Marilyn Singer has written over fifty books for young readers, including poetry, fairy tales, mysteries and young adult novels. Marilyn and her husband, Steve Aronson, live in New York, where the weather in March is sometimes stormy and cold and sometimes warm and sunny. Frane Lessac is an American who has traveled all over the world. She now lives in Fremantle, Australia, but always looks forward to visiting Texas with her family. To bring the Lone Star State to life with gouache paints, Frane did extensive research using a video camera, a still camera, and actual and virtual tours. She is the illustrator of more than thirty books for children, including Capital! Washington D.C. from A to Z and New York, New York! The Big Apple from A to Z, both by Laura Krauss Melmed.


A series of bright vignettes provides an ingenious response to children's curiosity about what youngsters in other parts of the world are doing while they themselves are going to bed. Armchair travelers can espy their counterparts dancing at a late-night party in Puerto Rico, raiding the pantry in the wee hours in London, dreaming by the Congo and drawing water from the village well at dawn in India. By the book's end, the scenarios come full circle to 9 p.m., ``sleepytime'' in Brooklyn, N.Y. Enhanced by Lessac's ( Caribbean Canvas ) primitive paintings, Singer's ( Turtle in July ) text ably suits the various locales--a bicycling aunt in China ``pedals quickly, flying like a dragon''; a serene Japanese grandfather ``floats a tulip so the fish can greet the spring.'' Though simple in concept, text and design, the book works on several levels--as a primer on time and the time zones, as an introduction to foreign cultures and as a rhythmic, pleasing lullaby. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)

K-Gr 2-- Beginning (and ending) in Brooklyn at bedtime, this picture book jumps a step east around the world, where the same moment becomes a different hour in 15 different time zones. Singer's brief narrative contains cultural and auditory cues, humor, and some interesting connections. Lessac's paintings are lively and detailed, in her familiar naive style. It would be hard to imagine her work without its vibrant colors, but here they work against the grain. Uniformly gay pages and flat light sacrifice part of the sense-experience of difference. Although half the book occurs at dusk or night, when ``all cats are gray,'' Lessac's glowing palette remains constant. Switzerland and Zaire at 3 a.m. are just as colorfully bright as Sydney at noon. Nor are the essential props, a globe and clock, incorporated into the work. In any case, the concept of time zones may be beyond the grasp of the intended audience. What this title does convey is the connectedness of the inhabitants of our global village. --Patricia Dooley, University of Washington, Seattle

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