A take, a pry, a scream, a cry.
A touch, a look, a wet, a dry.
A yawn, a peep, a stretch, a heap.
A kiss, a blink, a night, asleep.
This new collaborative effort between Newbery Honor winner Kyle Lukoff (Too Bright to See, 2021) and Toronto-based illustrator Nadia Alam is exquisite. In simple, yet intricate, short verses, we go from awake to asleep with three families. As the families meander through a day together, we are allowed in for glimpses of their mundane and oh-so-relatable moments of wonder. Awake, Asleep goes beyond a mere bedtime book; it is a beautiful meditation on the string of moments that make up all our days.
I heartily applaud Lukoff’s subtle text. Here is a writer who agrees that every child is born a poet. When I first read this book, I knew I loved it, but I wasn’t sure how it would land with our youngest readers. I’m happy to report that I have overheard my youngest quoting “[…] a dawn, a break” to her dolls on many occasions. The page with a stinky diaper is a crowd pleaser; you’ve been warned.
As for Alam’s illustrations, they are perfect. The pastel lines evoke just enough movement and the Toronto-inspired skyline just enough sense of place. The families are a relatable delight. I was thrilled to see a single mom and her son. The details of her work make Lukoff’s text shine with relatability. Look for the pink sneakers. Look for the blinking eyes and wonky noses. Look for the humanity – it’s all over this one.
You won’t regret going from awake to asleep alongside Lukoff and Alam. What joy!
Catherine-Laura Dunnington holds a Ph. D. in education from the University of Ottawa. She teaches preschool.