While You Were Sleeping

by John Butler

John Butler's While You Were Sleeping

Book review by Sherri Trudgian

Ages 1-4

Counting nocturnal creatures!

John Butler’s book While You Were Sleeping reminds me of that age old philosophical question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Have you ever asked yourself, “What happens while I’m fast asleep?”

Daisy’s mother greets her little girl with a morning kiss. Although it’s time for Daisy to wake up, mother explains that many animals stay awake all night and rest during the day. Naturally Daisy asks the question, “What were they doing while I was sleeping?”

Daisy’s mother creatively utilizes the numbers one through ten to explain the habits of some nocturnal animals.

At dusk one very non-threatening young tiger sets out to hunt for food. Two baby field mice settle into their warm cozy nest. Three bear cubs romp under the moon light in the gently falling snow. Four owlets resemble balls of fluff as they perch atop a tree branch. Five dolphins catch a wave as they skim through the foam. Six deer leap over the silvery stream in the misty woods. Seven geese fly silently across the face of the moon. A spider hides in the grass between buttercups while eight rabbits frolic in the meadow. A star shoots across the heavens as nine elephants trek across the savannah.

I love how each illustration draws the reader deeper into the night until ten perky penguins leap from the water to greet the dawn.

Daisy asks a second question “Are they all asleep now?” “Yes.” but mother assures her that they will all wake up again when Daisy closes her eyes.

John Butler is both author and illustrator. His animals are beautiful. I particularly like his use of the color white to soften the darkness. The ear and chin of the tiger, the feathers in the mice’s nest, the bear cubs’ snow, the owlets’ fluff, the dolphins’ ocean foam, and the haunting shadows of the geese against the moon all contrast to focus one’s attention on their amazing eyes.

John Butler ends the book with a picture of Daisy’s room. It contains all the animals from the previous pages. Your little one will have fun trying to find and count each one hidden amongst Daisy’s toys.

John Butler’s While You Were Sleeping is an after bath/before bedtime must read. The soft colors and gentle creatures will lull your little ones into dreamland.

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