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A Lullabye

by Billy Joel & illustrated by Yvonne Gilbert

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-439-55376-8
Publisher: Scholastic

There are a number of songs-into-picture-books that work easily and even beguilingly in both formats—this is not one of them. A song Billy Joel wrote for his daughter has the edgy sentimentality and strong piano line one would expect, but the translation to the page goes badly. Gilbert’s style is heavy on hearts and flowers, curlicues and butterflies—all in pretty pastels. That’s not bad in and of itself, but combined with the lyrics, the whole collapses into goopy sentimentality. The words themselves make it hard to follow the narrative of the pictures. First the little girl is tucked into bed by her jeans-and-T-shirt-clad father, but then, as he recalls a day on their boat, she’s awake and singing to him. Then he imagines her as an adult singing to her own child, her bed becomes the boat, and then it’s back with the sleeping child. “Someday we’ll all be gone. / But lullabies go on and on . . . / They never die. / That’s how / you and I will be.” Somehow, it sounds better when he sings it. (Picture book. 4-7)