Using the well-loved “Rock-a-Bye Baby” lyrics as their springboard, a writer/editor with a literary-press background and her collaborator, an accomplished watercolorist, have created a pretty new picture book shaped around reassuring verses.
“Rock-a-bye baby in the tree top / When the wind blows the cradle will rock, / When the bough breaks the cradle will fall, / And down will come baby cradle and all.” This traditional lullaby, known to generations (the original rhyme goes back centuries), has long inspired children’s authors, music artists—and undoubtedly parents and other caregivers—to put their own stamp on it. Jones (a writer, editor, and advising assistant director of Wake Forest University Press) and artist Emery contribute to the mix with a combination of tender new verses and delicate watercolor paintings. Jones begins her addition to the familiar rhyme: “When the bough breaks / I’ll be right there / And I will catch you as you fall through the air.” She continues in that soothing vein—“The world is so big and you are so small, / I’ll always hear you whenever you call”—and ends with this parental affirmation: “Trees grow up tall / But love never stops ... / Someday you’ll go climbing / To the tree tops!” Emery’s illustrations, rendered in a soft, cool color palette, provide an opportunity for cozy parent-child interaction, too, guided by Jones’ back-of-book, seek-and-find list of people and animals to be discovered throughout: “p.7 One green hound dog, one baby,” “p.13 Two hound dogs, two yellow fish, five horses, one mother, one baby,” “p.21 One big bear, three cats, one bird, one squirrel, two bunnies, one raccoon, and one baby! Do you see the train?” A musical performance of Jones’ new verses, sung by recording artist Laurelyn Dossett, available as a free download, demonstrates the words’ rhythmic pattern. A notice at the website states that a portion of the book’s sales will benefit child-abuse prevention and animal welfare nonprofits.
A warmhearted, eye-pleasing new “Rock-a-Bye Baby” picture book in verse, nicely calibrated for cozy bedtime reading.