The Sleepwalkers

illus. by author. 96p. Candlewick. 2013. pap. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-6230-1. LC 2012947253.
Gr 4 Up—Three sheep have been rescuing children from their own nightmares for a lifetime. Now that they are on the verge of retirement, they set out to train their replacements, which include a bear in a luchador mask, a charismatic sock monkey, and a crow with a pen for a head. These unlikely superheroes use both their wits and their fists to save the day in the most impossible and creative scenarios. One moment, they're saving a girl in a town entirely made of cheese from an army of rats; the next, they're saving an underwear-clad boy giving a speech in front of his classmates. But while they are out battling nightmares, our heroes must deal with their own demons, such as their fear of failure and of death. It's surprisingly deep for such a fantastical journey, but it is so action-packed and fast-paced that it seems as though there is a panel or page missing every once in a while that should have a little backstory. But while the exposition drops the ball, the drawings gracefully pick it back up. Anyone familiar with Schwarz's picture books knows that her artwork favors the surreal. In Sleepwalkers, her avant-garde style fits right in and greatly adds to each character and dream. Many of her dreamscapes will easily be some of the best illustrations seen in children's lit all year. With its lovable characters and imaginative settings, Sleepwalkers will be a hit with both young and older readers.—Peter Blenski, Greenfield Public Library, WI

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