Imagination is a wonderful thing, and it seems most active in children when it's bedtime. Author and illustrator Marc Sutherland is no child, but his imagination is terrific in his first book, The Waiting Place. He has positioned himself as a child in bed on one of those sleepless nights when my toes itch, and the rickety floorboards creak . . . And the rusty old bedsprings squeak and imagination soars.

All sorts of creatures dance into the bedroom through the open window. They in turn create faraway places and adventures for the sleepless child a submarine ride deep in the sea, a visit to the North Woods, sailing in a longboat with Vikings, riding to the moon in a hot-air ballon. Sutherland introduces each new flight of fancy with a brief verse.

The best surprise comes with daylight when the child discovers a blizzard blew in with the morning and the reality of a day's play in the snow takes hold. For the first time, readers see the child standing at the open window ready to meet the day.

Sutherland's detailed, black-and-white illustrations fill the child's room just beyond the foot of the bed on each spread. They are captivating. Don't think you can read this bedtime book once and call it a day. Any child not half asleep will want to look for the apple that appears in every picture. You may find yourself going back to look at the Latin motto carried by the Queen's soldiers or trying to figure out the next move on the chess board. Sutherland has been drawing and painting since he was a boy perhaps not too long ago since he's in his early thirties. Born in Quebec, he attended art school before returning to the woods in New Hampshire, where he lives and works as a forester. There he has had time to imagine and create these unbelievably rich charcoal drawings. Marian Schonfelter is a first grade teacher in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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