Sleep, Merel, Sleep by Silke Stein (Released on June 7th!)
Synopsis: Who wants to be awake forever?
Life has changed for eight-year-old Merel. Since the birth of her sick baby brother, her parents seem to have forgotten she exists. But when she finds a tiny silver violin in her bedroom rug, things take a turn for the worse.
Merel learns that her sleep has abandoned her and that she must embark on a perilous journey to recover it or stay awake forever. Together with her devoted toy sheep Roger, tired Merel sets out in search of Lullaby Grove. Before long, she finds herself haunted by a scary stranger.
Follow Merel into a surreal world. Meet a sleepy king with an obsession for feathers and a transparent old man on a night train going nowhere. Discover why the moonfish cry, why you should never walk across the Great Yawns ― and if poor Merel can escape her pursuer, win back her sleep, and realize what matters most in her life.
3.5 stars. This book was very abstract and weird, but quite interesting. It would be a great pick for middle-grade children who are about to become big brothers or sisters. Merel’s brother was just born, and Merel isn’t too pleased with him. Because he is sick, Merel’s parents never have time for her. One night, Merel’s sleep abandons her and she must go on a whimsical journey to find her “Sleep” and return his violin to him so that she can go to bed. Along the way, she meets friends and enemies and learns about what truly matters in her life.
I do wish that some things were explained a little more and that the transitions weren’t so odd and quick. It was a little like Alice in Wonderland, where the story is one nonsensical adventure after another, but it was still fun. Also, I wished that the ending wasn’t so abrupt, and didn’t leave so many loose ends untied. The last chapter or so confused me at first, because Merel went from one situation to another without explanation.
I liked how Silke Stein incorporated the issues of death of a loved one and the sickness of a premature sibling. It explains it in a way that children could understand, but adults can relate to.
The various characters were imaginative and interesting, and were one of the best parts of this book. Merel is relatable and brave. Though a bit unlikable at first (I mean, she threw enough tantrums that even her sleep abandoned her), she grew into a strong and smart little girl.
ARC provided by the author, Silke Stein, in exchange for my honest review.