September 27, 2023

While You Were Sleeping

Written and illustrated by Briana Corr Scott
Nimbus Publishing
32 pp.
Ages 3-7
September 2023

There are so many versions of families but, when a little one is born, their lives are transformed. Nova Scotian author and artist Briana Corr Scott speaks to all those families as they live, work, play and dream while those little ones, even as they age, sleep.
From While You Were Sleeping, written and illustrated by Briana Corr Scott
In rhyming verse, Briana Corr Scott shows a mother and father with baby strapped in a front-facing carrier preparing a baby's room for wallpaper and paint. As the baby continues to rest in a rocker, the parents finish the room with crib, sheets, and more. But this is but one family. Another is one visited by a trio of aunties, themselves of different skin shades, who coo and admire the child as they sleep. A street scene shows babies and young children in strollers, in front wraps, backpacks and wagons, all sleeping as their caregivers stroll. On a beach, two fathers and their sheepdog wander with their child, while two moms catch their own forty winks in between folding laundry. 
From While You Were Sleeping, written and illustrated by Briana Corr Scott
While their babies sleep, caregivers of all kinds-mothers, fathers, grandparents, and more–go to their jobs and school, do housework, and rest.

But while they sleep, those little ones are growing and they are growing up, until they make their own homes. Still the memories that were made remain.
From While You Were Sleeping, written and illustrated by Briana Corr Scott
While You Were Sleeping may be a lovely bedtime story to send your child off to slumber but I read it more as a tribute to the parents and caregivers who live, work, learn, and love behind the scenes. They are the parents who nurture and provide, who cherish and struggle, but who always keep on. Briana Corr Scott, herself a mother of three, undoubtedly knows the wonders and the challenges of bringing up a child and managing a household, a job, and more while caring for that child. And even though it is work, often requiring multitasking and asking for help, the rewards are more than sufficient.

If you know a family with a newborn, I recommend sharing While You Were Sleeping with them. Briana Corr Scott's touching words will surely resonate with them.
We went to our jobs
We woke with the dawn
We longed to be home
And we loathed being gone...
          While you were sleeping.
And her paintings, resplendent with colours and patterns, visit the homes of all types of families, from those with single parents to multigenerational ones, and include multiracial and same-sex parents. Everyone is making a family, while their children sleep, and Briana Corr Scott shows them to us. Your children may fall asleep as you read this, but I know a tear or two will venture out onto your cheeks as you do so.

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