While the World is Sleeping

by Pamela Duncan Edward
Illustrations by Daniel Kirk
Scholastic, 2010

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While the World

Book Description
Bestselling author and illustrator Pamela Duncan Edwards and illustrator Daniel Kirk take you on a flight across the night to see what happens in nature . . . while the world is sleeping. Spend the night on an exploration with foxes, porcupines, raccoons, fish, mice, and more as their day begins while the rest of the world is fast asleep. Fly across the night on a snow owl as you glide over meadows, lakes, forests, and rivers with only the moon to light the way.

Reviews of While the World is Sleeping

Review from School Library Journal 
PreSchool-K—A huge, round-headed, furry-footed snowy owl peers into a young girl’s window and invites her on a nighttime ride. (“Oh, what wondrous things we’ll see/While the world is sleeping.”) That line completes the lilting rhyme on each page, adding a lulling, comforting tone to the poetic text. Off the child and the owl fly, over frolicking fawns, swimming fish, playing rabbits, dam-building beavers, and other denizens of the night, returning home, at last, to sleep. The final painting shows the child stretching awake in her bed at sunrise. Kirk’s bold gouache paintings fill every inch of each scene with eye-catching realistic detail, highlighted by the light of the full Moon. Many of the animals, especially the cat-faced fox; the sweet-faced porcupine clinging in childlike fashion to a tree branch; and the rounded, soft-furred, innocent-faced raccoon have a friendly, nonthreatening look about them. There is strong detail in leaves and shrubbery, pinecones, tree bark, animal fur, owl feathers, and porcupine quills. A reassuring bedtime poem, as well as a lovely introduction to nocturnal animals.—Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review from Booklist
Like A Book of Sleep (2009), this inviting bedtime story is an owl’s guided tour of the outdoors at night; here, though, the focus is on what animals do while people sleep instead of the variations of animal slumber. Edwards’ text, featuring three rhyming lines followed by the title refrain, is narrated by an owl, who turns out to be huge enough to carry a child on his back. (The owl induces the kid to climb to him from his or her bedroom window and returns the child to bed at the end of the book.) Each spread describes an animal or two with lively succinctness: “A bright-eyed fox is on the prowl, / He hopes to take a juicy fowl, / Until he hears the guard dog howl, / While the world is sleeping.” Kirk’s illustrations are big and bold, featuring the shimmering light of the moon, animals whose every hair seems distinct, and playful faux-Rousseau forests. The book’s mix of the realistic and fantastic seems like a perfect prelude to dream time. Preschool-Grade 2. –Abby Nolan

Review from Publishers Weekly
“Come little sleepyhead, come with me,/ I’ve left my hole high in the tree./ Oh, what wondrous things we’ll see,/ While the world is sleeping.” Edwards (Dinosaur Starts School) issues readers this lyrical invitation as an enormous white owl swoops toward a lit bedroom window, where a child climbs onto its back for a moonlit tour of the countryside. With fluid rhyme and a calming cadence, the verse chronicles the nighttime habits of various animals. Deer frolic, rabbits play, beavers build a dam, and a raccoon eyes tempting garbage cans. (Though deer and rabbits are more active at twilight than at midnight, readers are no more likely to be bothered by this than by a giant owl offering nocturnal rides to children.) Kirk’s (Library Mouse) luminescent, finely detailed gouache paintings give the animals hyperreal cuteness; their gleaming eyes have more than a hint of personification. The art also offers entertaining background diversions, as animals make surprise return appearances. This satisfying lullaby is a pleasure for ears and eyes. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)

Review from Children’s Literature
A little child (of pleasantly uncertain gender) is no sooner tucked safely into bed than an enormous owl appears at the window, with the invitation to “climb aboard” for a journey “through the night/While the world is sleeping.” Riding upon the owl’s back, the child flies all night long to observe the lively nocturnal activities of deer, fish, foxes, rabbits, beavers, porcupines, mice, raccoons, rats, and bats. Then the child returns home, to a darkened house with one wonderfully lit window, awaiting his/her own chance to sleep. Some young readers might find the gigantic owl at the window (face vastly larger than the window itself) grotesque and frightening rather than alluring; most will likely welcome the chance to fly through the darkness to explore a world that turns out to be anything but sleeping. The design of the book is somewhat odd, with text integrated into the illustrations on some pages, but appearing in a clunky, distracting box on others. The overall effect of the book is unsettling: humans made to seem at odds with the rest of the animal world, sleeping only as they begin to wake, waking only as they begin to sleep. But Edwards and Kirk effectively communicate the message that there is a whole other world out there, a world of which most of us know nothing, a world of which we get a few tantalizing and magical glimpses. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.

Review from Kirkus Reviews
A giant snowy owl pays a visit to a young child, introducing him/her to some nocturnal animals. The child clings to the owl’s back while they visit river, meadow, farmyard, stream and woods. “In the woods, a porcupine, / Rattles quills to send a sign, / Don’t come near, this food is mine! / While the world is sleeping.” With the exception of two, the rhymes work well and, with its repetitive phrasing, this would make for a good read-aloud in group settings. While most of the creatures are in fact nocturnal, Edwards includes deer and rabbits, which are crepuscular. The ending leaves open for readers the opportunity to have an adventure of their own-a stuffed owl on the bed suggests the power of imagination. Kirk’s sharp-edged gouache artwork stops short of pure realism, rounding the animals a bit to suit a younger audience (though the fox’s pop eyes look downright sinister). At the same time, children are given an extreme close-up view of most. Muted colors enhance the nocturnal theme. An imaginative look at nighttime nature. (Picture book. 4-7)

Daniel Kirk speaks about While the World is Sleeping
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My editor at Scholastic, Ken, sent me the manuscript for “While the World is Sleeping”, and wondered if I’d be interested in illustrating it. Since it takes me four or five months to illustrate a book, I really have to find something special in somebody else’s story for me to want to spend the time making those pictures. I really liked the fact that there were so many animals in the story, and the fact that it was set at night. I’d never painted a whole book at night, before, and I thought it would be fun to try.

There’s nowhere in the text where it says the child is a girl, or that she’s riding on an owl, but it does say the child is flying on something. I discussed the options with my editor, and we agreed that a snowy owl would be a good choice. The other thing my editor wanted me to remember is that there are a lot of predatory animals out and about at night, and he didn’t want me to shy away from the scary aspect of that…he didn’t want a cute, sweet book, but one with a real sense of mystery and possible danger. That’s why some of the pictures are a little scary, if you really look at them.[/expand]

Things to think about and do, after reading While the World is Sleeping
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  1. What nocturnal animals have you seen? Did you see them in a zoo, or in their natural habitat?
  2. What traces do nocturnal animals leave that you might find in the daytime?
  3. Do you like day time or night time animals better? Why do you think there are differences between day and night animals? What are they looking for?
  4. In While the World is Sleeping, a little girl flies through the night on the back of a snowy owl. If you could journey through the night on the back of an animal, what would it be? Where would you go?

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