Close Your Eyes

Close Your Eyes

By Kate Banks; Georg Hallensleben (Illustrator)

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr), Hardcover, 9780374313821, 40pp.

Publication Date: September 2002


A little tiger takes an imaginative journey

"The little tiger lay on his back in the tall grass."
""Close your eyes, little tiger," said his mother, "and go to sleep.""

But the little tiger is worried about what sleep might bring.
His mother reassures him that once he closes his eyes, he will dream of magical places. And when he awakens, she will be right there, waiting for him.

Alternating between real-life scenes with the baby tiger and his mother and enchanted dream scenes of sleep's possibilities, Kate Banks's simple, comforting text and Georg Hallensleben's bright, colorful illustrations make this a charming bedtime story for small children.

"Close Your Eyes" is a 2002 New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year and a 2003 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

About the Author
Kate Banks has written many books for children, among them "Max s Words", "And If the Moon Could Talk", winner of the Boston Globe Horn Book Award, and "The Night Worker", winner of the Charlotte Zolotow Award. She grew up in Maine, where she and her two sisters and brother spent a lot of time outdoors, and where Banks developed an early love of reading. I especially liked picture books, she says, and the way in which words and illustrations could create a whole new world in which sometimes real and other times magical and unexpected things could happen. Banks attended Wellesley College and received her master's in history at Columbia University. She lived in Rome for eight years but now lives in the South of France with her husband and two sons, Peter Anton and Maximilian.

What can I say about me? That I was born in 1958 in a German town called Wuppertal and that I have two sisters. That I didn't like to go to school because I thought it was terribly boring and I preferred riding my bicycle in the woods, and drawing the landscapes I encountered.
I made drawing after drawing in the forest and in Bonn, the city where I lived, carrying with me on my bike a wooden case with all my art supplies inside: pens, inks, and watercolors, as well as a very small folding chair, so small that every time I got up after sitting on it for an hour my legs had completely fallen asleep, and I stumbled like an idiot, unless there was a fence to grab on to!

Even on vacations with my parents, I passed my time filling sketchbooks and sheets of paper with drawings and watercolors. For me it has always been the most natural thing to do. Almost all children draw, and, encouraged by my parents, I just never stopped.

The same year I finished school, I had my first solo exhibition in a gallery in Zurich, Switzerland. I had written a letter to an Austrian draftsman whose drawings I admired, Paul Flora, and he answered me with an incredibly friendly letter, along with a set of drawing pens, and even a drawing "just for demonstration." He showed my watercolors to his Swiss editor and gallery owner, and I received a letter just as my family was leaving on vacation, asking if I had ever exhibited, and if I would like to do so. I remember waiting hours for the right moment to show my parents the letter. I was so proud.

Soon after finishing school, I went to live in Italy, in Rome. I started drawing and painting more seriously there, and began showing my paintings. I met Kate Banks, who had already published several books she had written. I had always loved the idea of doing illustrations for children's books, and I had written a very simple story of my own, doing new versions of illustrations over and over for the same text. I had showed this at the children's book fair in Bologna, Italy, to a French publisher who seemed to like my illustrations. The story was set in the jungle, and when Kate saw the illustrations, she told me she had written a text that was also set in the jungle, and she asked me if I wouldn't like to try to do some illustrations for her story, which was called "Baboon".

Since then we have created three picture books together. I really like to have someone to show my illustrations to, someone who asks me things like "Why don't you draw the lizard a little bigger?"

I always find it difficult to judge my own drawings, so each day when my fiancee, Anne, comes home from her work, she looks at what I've done. When she likes my work, I am happy, because her opinion is almost always right.

I always make many versions of the same illustrations and am lucky to have an editor who will call a halt to this, because a book eventually has to be printed. I always have technical problems, I think because I enjoy having them when I start to see how a certain paint works on a certain type of paper, I change them to see how a different combination might work. Thus I am hardly ever content with what I have done, and the moment a book is published I think what I could have done to make it better!

I lived in Rome, with some interruptions, for about twenty years. Last year, I moved to Paris, where I now live with Anne, and too many cats.

Praise For Close Your Eyes

"Little tiger and his mother sit in the tall grass waiting for night to fall . . . The text flows beautifully from one page to the next and lends itself perfectly to reading aloud . . . Each lovely spread enhances the lyrical text . . . This beautifully written and charmingly illustrated story will be enjoyed over and over again." --Starred, School Library Journal

"Another lyrical nighttime tale . . . reminiscent of Margaret Wise Brown's The Runaway Bunny."  --Booklist

"Spry and lively . . . Not only will Close Your Eyes help children settle down to sleep, it may also help them to dream and, perhaps, even to create."  --The New York Times Book Review

"Soothing."  --The Horn Book

"Satisfying."  --Publishers Weekly