While You Are Sleeping
by Alexis Deacon
I tried the whole stuffed animal thing with my son, tucking them in with him and all that. Not a chance. Nemo survived a few days. A stuffed shark a few days more. I found a sock in its teeth. But lambies and teddies and fishies and dolls? Over the side of the bunk bed they went. Aaaiiieeeeeeeee ... splat!
So there's no point in even showing him this book, about how a little girl's plush friends keep her safe at night. It's the same territory covered most famously in Toy Story, where toys come alive when no one's around to see, done in subdued pastels on beige paper.
Deacon smudges edges in a technique called chiaroscuro, where the colors fade into the shadows, the characters are softly illuminated from some unseen source as they patrol beneath the bed or blankets to keep the little girl snug.
The style is instantly recognizable from the brilliant Jitterbug Jam, about a little monster scared of the boy under his bed. But the chiaroscuro makes this book subtly creepy, and it doesn't help that there's a monkey who bears too much resemblence to the kind you see in horror flicks banging a drum like it's possessed. And those eyes! What's with those round, expressionless eyes? *shudder*
Santa makes a welcome appearance -- a reddish blur in the background, paired with understated text:
And on that one night
when you absolutely must not wake,
we make sure you don't.
The warm sentiments save this from Deacon's dark side -- just barely. But wouldn't you just love to see another monster book from him somehow?