When the Sky is Like Lace is a beautiful picture book that I grew up reading. It is funny, beautiful, and slightly mysterious. Although the text doesn’t refer to them, there are three sisters in the illustrations, and we always pretended that was me and my sisters (so what if they’re all blonde – a girl can dream, right?). This book isn’t a story. It gives instructions on what to do on those magical nights “when it’s bimulous and the sky is like lace.”
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Wondering what a bimulous night looks like? A bimulous night is “when the sky is like lace, and the grass is like gooseberry jam.” “If you see the man in the moon wink – especially through a clean white handkerchief – YOU may soon see a BIMULOUS SKY.” Now do you understand? If not, it might help to know that “everything is strange splendid and plum-purple” and the grass “feels like the velvet inside a very old violin case.”
On bimulous nights when the sky is like lace, there is a party and everyone is invited. The dancing otters sing a song that makes the snails mad, and you give gifts like “three fireflies in a jar, anything chartreuse, honey, kites, home-made marshmallow fudge, a bag of red marbles, a coconut.”
There are rules such as eating spaghetti with pineapple sauce, never talk to a rabbit or a kissing gourami, and whatever you do, do not wear orange (not even underneath).
The illustrations are beautiful, and capture the whimsical beauty of the Lewis Carroll kind of words. Barbara Cooney is the illustrator of When the Sky is Like Lace as well as another favorite, Roxaboxen (which I reviewed here). She does a wonderful job depicting the mystery and loveliness of a night that is “perfectly bimulous.”
My kids have only experienced the magic of the book at my parents’ house because this book is out of print, but Brontë really enjoyed it when my mom brought her copy during their recent visit here. I’ve already added it to the Christmas list for this year.
This book is currently out of print, but you can find it on Amazon here: When the Sky is Like Lace
Our library does not have it, but your local library may have it. It is definitely worth the search to find it.