Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Children's Book Review: The World Never Sleeps

It might sound odd to recommend a book entitled The World Never Sleeps (Tilbury House Publishers, 2018) as bedtime reading, but parents will find this book to be both enthralling and calming to their children. The story arc is a natural one, covering the rhythms of life through an entire twenty-four hour cycle; and the creatures found from the sky to subterranean burrows.

The artwork, by Carol Schwartz, and text by author Natalie Rompella, complement each other perfectly, weaving a captivating story of the life of an average home, garden, and pond as explored by a cat. The feline serves as the perfect bridge between the familiar and comforting and the unknown and adventurous. It gives children permission to explore, with the promise of security that home provides. It ignites imagination and no doubt sparks dreams of what lies beyond the doorstep.

I can speak to Rompella's near obsession with accuracy, as she recruited myself and several other entomologists I know to check facts and rigorously analyze her words for faults in the narrative. Hopefully, she did not lose sleep herself in this agonizing attention to detail. One of the recurring problems with children's books is failure of agreement between text and artwork, as the author is almost never permitted (by publishers) to illustrate his or her own book. Rompella worked tirelessly to insure this would not be an issue in The World Never Sleeps.

The back of the book includes more matter-of-fact prose about the many insects and other invertebrates spotlighted in the story. This helps illuminate aspects of their behavior and biology that could not otherwise be covered, and serves to further inspire the reader, or listener, to make further inquiry online and in other books.

The world needs more books like those that Rompella writes, for children of all ages. Conservation of biodiversity begins at home, with an appreciation and understanding of wildlife of all kinds, even those we might regard as pests at first glance. It is my honor and conflict-of-interest-free delight to recommend The World Never Sleeps. What an appropriate holiday gift this would make, especially in light of "The Night Before Christmas." There most certainly are more creatures stirring.

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