A child enjoys a moonlit encounter with nature.
The book opens with the child in a dream, outside in the snowy woods. An owl feather floats down into an open palm; the northern lights color the sky. Evidently waking, the white, pajama-clad child then goes outside into a summer night, finding a favorite oak tree and communing with it. Again the owl drops a feather, and again the child catches it, as dawn now colors the sky. Dougherty’s poetic text appeals to the senses, immersing readers in the child’s experiences: “I dig my toes into the cool, moist earth, stirring up the musty scent of last year’s leaves and little creatures who lived here not so long ago.” Busch’s occasionally smudgy watercolors play with the dappling moonlight, varying perspective while maintaining an awestruck mood. Children will be confused, however, by the abrupt transition between dream and waking, winter and summer. Compounding this pacing problem is the languorous progress of the rest of the book, which, with no action to speak of, extends a few page turns too many.
Pretty and appropriately full of wonder, but at 40 plot-free pages, just too long to sustain its mood. (Picture book. 4-8)