REVIEW: Leave Your Sleep: A Collection of Classic Children’s Poetry

leave-your-sleep-merchant-mcclintockThe Charles Causley Trust is delighted to see Charles’s work captured with such beauty; Leave Your Sleep, a collaboration between Natalie Merchant and illustrator Barbara McClintock is a quite magical book.

Natalie Merchant’s wonderful 2010 album by the same name was a moment of great excitement for the Trust, and the simply outstanding interpretation of ‘Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience’, not to mention the superb coverage of Charles Causley in the accompanying booklet, was one of the highlights of that year. A representative of the Trust met with Natalie at her gig in Bristol that year to present her with a limited edition Causley publication. Her promotion of Charles’s work is hugely appreciated.

Now, Merchant has teamed up with hugely talented Connecticut artist Barbara McClintock to produce a children’s book version of the ‘Leave Your Sleep’ poems – including such names as Robert Louis Stevenson, Mervyn Peake and E.E. Cummings – and Charles’s ‘Nursery Rhyme’ is included again – as is a CD of the recordings carried from the 2010 release. Not all of the poems set to music are repeated here, so it is a great delight that Charles is represented.

Merchant Natalie 3 BannerThe book is a beautiful hardback release, including the CD as already described, and the illustrations to accompany these intelligently curated poems are quite simply amazing. They reflect a Victorian or Edwardian sensibility, although they have a quite clearly modern appeal and unique quality. McClintock is an exciting and deeply creative and empathetic illustrator. Charles’s poem features across four pages of the book, with one drawing filling an entire page with an image of magical and timeless quality. It is quite simply wonderful to see his work brought to such vivid life.

The book does have an ethereal quality, almost like a children’s book surviving from an earlier age – but realised through a very modern viewpoint. It is a triumph, and a very entrancing and haunting collection. For those of us of a certain age, it will bring back great and tender memories of the books of our early years – very much like some of Charles’s early picture books, or picture books of an even earlier age. Coupled with the CD selection from Merchant’s simply wondrous 2010 album, this book is an absolute dream and must.

We cannot recommend this box of wonders highly enough, and suggest Christmas Present hunting is at an end. Outstanding.