A nighttime adventure and memories of reading with a grandfather remind a child of the pleasures to be found in books.
On the night before turning 8, a child is given a book by their parents—a great disappointment. Surely they know their offspring prefers “toys, games, and movies.” Then, in the middle of the night, an enormous lion out on the lawn beckons. Introductions are made as the child climbs on the lion’s back. The lion’s name is Fortitude, and they are on their way to meet Patience. Yes! The iconic lions that stand guard in front of the New York Public Library. At the library the books arrange themselves into all sorts of shapes that remind the child of books that Grandpa read aloud before he passed away. The child also finds books that are not familiar. With a reawakened interest in reading, that spurned birthday gift is now welcome. More than the story, the charm here is in Colón’s always-beautiful artwork. The olive-skinned family is so real and the little child’s face so full of expression. The amusing rearrangement of the books at the library is whimsical and captivating.
After reading the book, follow up with a visit to the New York Public Library if possible—your local if not.
(Picture book. 4-8)
A girl discovers a world of secret pets that exists only at night in this Swedish import.
When her mom says she can’t have a pet—a “real” pet, with fur—narrator Lucy goes to bed disappointed. But that night, she hears scratching in the wall by her bed. A purring voice tells her to guess its name and it will come to her. She whispers, “Silvring,” and a cat, who is outlined in white but otherwise invisible, crawls out onto Lucy’s bed. Silvring knows just what she needs and wants to do. They go outside and climb a tree and see other people out walking their own secret pets, all of which are unusual and dreamlike: fish in the air, a polar bear, and then a huge, dangerous, pink-and-red, flying creature walked by a robed figure in a beaked plague mask. Luckily, Silvring grows big too, and she protects Lucy. They return home tired, and Silvring is gone come morning, “Because during the day, the secret animals sleep inside the walls, hidden behind the wallpaper.” The watercolor-and-ink illustrations are skillfully rendered in deep blue and pink tones that effectively carry readers into Lucy’s nighttime fantasy, Silvring often just a suggestion of blue daubs on lighter blue. The story’s intense emotions of longing are impressively real. Lucy and her mother both present black; Lucy wears her hair in afro puffs.
A satisfying story by a talented artist.
(Picture book. 5-9)
A quiet mystery for bedtime that shines in its simplicity.
It’s spring-cleaning time, when everyone is hard at work. Little Fox, who loves mysteries and fancies himself a detective, polishes his Detecting Magnifying Glass as he dusts, so he’s ready when a bad dream tells him the moon has been devoured by monsters! Sure enough, when he opens his eyes, the moon is gone. Out he goes into the nighttime woods to search for the missing moon, joined by nocturnal friends Owl, Wolf, and Bear. When they go to invite diurnal Rabbit to join their expedition, they discover him in his house, up to his armpits in soap suds, busily washing the moon! A 90-degree turn shows the friends returning the moon to the sky in a vertical illustration to demonstrate its distance. Trukhan’s bold colors, attention to open space and object placement, and compelling use of geometric shapes evoke the bright village by day and the gently spooky woods by night in an appealing, retro graphic style. Inky, dark endpapers feature charmingly drawn white stars, setting the stage for the story. The understated gender bend in this picture book presents male characters busily cleaning, offering young children an alternative to traditional roles.
Perfect for young sleuths with active imaginations who want to solve one more mystery before bedtime
. (Picture book. 3-7)
Short poems describe the adventures of inanimate objects found in a young child’s house at night.
Initial poems come from the perspective of brightly colored animal toys, stuffed and otherwise, who are ready for a raucous night of play after their human child falls asleep. Art supplies, an errant library book, items of clothing, and even a toilet, among other things, offer their points of view in the pages that follow. Some poems appear on double-page spreads; in other cases two or three poems are featured in the same amount of space accompanied by vignettes. The poems vary in form and impact, but the feel overall is cheery and energetic. Two of the most engaging and recognizable forms, acrostic and concrete, bring the parents’ belongings to life: A bottle of fragrance laments her immobile state, and a necktie uses humorous wordplay to describe its function. Matteson’s paintings, created in acrylics and gouache with colored pencil, employ multiple shades of blue as background to evoke the nighttime setting. Brighter shades and unusual perspectives match the liveliness of the text. Simply drawn faces on the objects convey emotions effectively, while stick-figure–style arms and legs provide the means of locomotion and heighten the whimsical tone. The child who sleeps through this activity has beige skin and straight, dark hair.
Familiar objects, playful language, and imaginative action add up to a collection that will amuse young listeners and, perhaps, inspire them to undertake imaginative explorations of their own
. (Picture book/poetry. 3-8)
Muffin the cat knows everything that goes on in the neighborhood, and the perky marmalade cat is very sure that there are no bears in the Little Bear Bakery….
…Until one night the adorable little hard-boiled detective senses a mysterious new growling sound in the air and investigates. Following the noise and spouting Sam Spade–like comments (“I slipped into the darkness like icing melting down a hot cake”), Muffin enters the bakery and discovers the “biggest mouse I had ever seen.” Correction: “the smallest bear I’d ever “seen.” Using finely honed ace-detective skills, Muffin deduces the reason for that rumbling sound and gets on the case. Author/illustrator Sarcone-Roach uses acrylic paint and marker to depict Muffin and the baby bear joyfully breaking into display cases to reach the sweet treats. Once the rumbling (in the bear’s tummy) has quieted, a dark shadow falls over the two, and they find they have a very large, very huggy visitor. It turns out that big bears like sprinkles, too. The next morning, after Muffin has seen the bears off safely, job done and case closed, the neighborhood returns to normal. Well, except for the owner of the bakery, a woman with pale skin and straight, black hair and a look of astonishment at the state of her shop that is priceless.
A funny and charming cat-detective story accompanied by clever wordplay and delightful illustrations.
(Picture book. 4-8)