One of the year’s loveliest picture books, Northern Lullaby captures the vast starry splendor and serenity of an Arctic night. ”Goodnight Papa Star. Goodnight Mama Moon,” whispers a sleepy child, beginning a bedtime salute to the animals, rivers, mountains, and trees of the Alaskan wilderness.
Leo and Diane Dillon, who won the 1991 Coretta Scott King award for the children’s book Aida, brilliantly evoke the beauty of the tundra by filling each illustration with immense figures of aboriginal people in animal costumes, streaming across the snowy sky like watchful spirits. Huddled close to the ground is the tiny stone cabin, light glowing from its window, where the child turns over ”between sleep and dreams.” The illustrations are remarkable for the alert, kindly expressiveness of the spirits’ faces, which contrast with the dazzling semi-abstract shapes of their costumes. The dreamy pastels are a marvel; light shines from deep within each picture. Nancy White Carlstrom’s Northern Lullaby inspires wonder at nature’s beauty. Its aura of peaceful reassurance will surely lull a child to sleep. A+