Simon scowls. She puts on her pajamas, tousles her hair, drinks a good glass of milk. And will carefully wash your teeth. Then he climbs the stairs, pats the pillow, lifts the blankets and plunges into bed.
That’s when Simon shouts:
– PAAAIII !!
It’s like this every night! And every night Simon’s father goes upstairs, settles down next to his son, and prepares to make the whole world fall asleep. Without it, Simon refuses to close his eyes.
Simon’s father begins in Africa. He lifts the blankets a little, extends his huge hands, puts them on his son’s feet, and utters the magic formula that makes jungles and savannas fall asleep.
And Simon sees. Huge lions shake their manes with rending roars. The baobabs shudder. And then come lions, elephants, zebras, rhinos, giraffes, gazelles, panthers… All the big and small animals from all the tropical jungles run in the moonlight and dive into their refuges, dens, dens. They flee to take shelter in the arms of the night.
– Ready! Says Simon’s father. “Africa already sleeps.”
Simon yawns a little while waiting for the continuation.
Then the father lifts the blankets a little higher, extends his hands, puts them on his son’s knees, and casts the magic formula that makes the seas fall asleep. It starts far away in the Antilles.
And Simon sees. The whales bob. The sea is rough. And then flying fish, dolphins, giant rays, sunfish, turtles, and mermaids begin a final dance step, an ode to the stars, before sliding into the deep recesses of the sea.
– There it is! Says Simon’s father. “The seas already sleep.”
Simon blinks as he waits for what comes next.
Then Simon’s father raises his blankets again, extends his big hands, puts them on his son’s belly, and casts the magic formula that makes the white deserts, the icy tundras, and all the countries of the cold fall asleep. It begins on the island of Ellesmere by having a very beautiful name.
And Simon sees. One million reindeer raise their antlers. White wolves raise their ears. The seals suck in the cold air once more. The bears gather their young. And the foxes jump in the caramel snow. The great veil of night envelops the countries of the midnight sun.
– All right, boy, it’s done! Says Simon’s father. “The Arctic has fallen asleep.”
Simon stretches a little while waiting. Then the father raises the blankets once more, extends his large hands, puts them on his son’s shoulders, and casts the magic formula that makes the heavens fall asleep. It starts somewhere in America.
And Simon sees. A flock of bustards sweeps the sky. Right behind, angry ducks and teal. And other birds with large wings take flight. The eagle traces its last circle. The albatrosses let out their most beautiful scream. The pelican deposits some provisions in hungry throat.
And then suddenly nothing else! The sky is deserted. All the birds in the world sleep with their heads under their wings.
– There, my boy! Says Simon’s father. “All heaven is sleeping.”
Simon sighs and closes his eyes. The father gets up to leave. But at the last moment, Simon shouts:
– Not! You’re not done yet.
The father smiles. The son is right. There is still a big country left.
Then the father raises the blankets again, extends his great hands again, puts them gently on his son’s head, and casts the magic formula that makes the sorcerers fall asleep and the fairies awake.
And Simon sees. All monsters and dragons in the universe, all creatures that poison the night disappear, as if by magic. The goblins leap from the rocks, the fairies shake their long golden hair, the wizards scatter the powders of the stars and the northern lights. The wonderful deities take turns. While the fairies watch, nothing bad can happen.
– There, my boy! Says Simon’s father. “You can’t be afraid of anything now.”
Simon does not move. Already sleeps.
Then the father smiles. The son is right. It’s time to go to bed.
It’s like this every night! Dominique Demers All the soirs of the monde Paris, Gallimard Jeunesse, 2005 (Translation and adaptation)