Offbeat enough to add to an already-groaning collection of bedtime books.

VINCENT AND THE NIGHT

Photogenic Vincent is a baby who isn’t ready for bedtime, so he uses the pen-and-ink blackness of nighttime to create a fantasy world for himself and readers.

A photo-collaged image of Vincent, yawning, is surrounded by black-inked crib rails and faced by a delightful pen-and-ink drawing of a nursery window at night: black sky with stars and fanciful moon; wide sill decorated with assorted stuffed animals. The text will immediately elicit empathy from young readers: “One evening, Vincent decided he didn’t want to go to bed.” Although the “night [is] rolling in,” Vincent knows “he could use the night for something else.” He grabs a thin strand of ink-cum-nighttime, and readers are off on a wild, imaginative adventure. Most pairs of pages feature one photograph of the baby coupled with whimsical black-inked art. The results are funny and delightful, from Vincent “being very naughty” as he pulls the tail of a Sandra Boynton–esque cat to Vincent creating a frog pond to an encounter with an elephant composed of pleasing ink swirls. Once Vincent gets going, most of the text is a direct address to Vincent, as in “Sure, it can drink all that, but where on earth are you going to put the elephant?” A climactic gallery of Vincent-in-action portraits leads to the expected cozy ending.

Offbeat enough to add to an already-groaning collection of bedtime books. (Picture book. 1-6)

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4106-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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The joys of counting combine with pretty art and homage to Goodnight Moon.

GOODNIGHT, NUMBERS

This bedtime book offers simple rhymes, celebrates the numbers one through 10, and encourages the counting of objects.

Each double-page spread shows a different toddler-and-caregiver pair, with careful attention to different skin tones, hair types, genders, and eye shapes. The pastel palette and soft, rounded contours of people and things add to the sleepy litany of the poems, beginning with “Goodnight, one fork. / Goodnight, one spoon. / Goodnight, one bowl. / I’ll see you soon.” With each number comes a different part in a toddler’s evening routine, including dinner, putting away toys, bathtime, and a bedtime story. The white backgrounds of the pages help to emphasize the bold representations of the numbers in both written and numerical forms. Each spread gives multiple opportunities to practice counting to its particular number; for example, the page for “four” includes four bottles of shampoo and four inlaid dots on a stool—beyond the four objects mentioned in the accompanying rhyme. Each home’s décor, and the array and types of toys and accoutrements within, shows a decidedly upscale, Western milieu. This seems compatible with the patronizing author’s note to adults, which accuses “the media” of indoctrinating children with fear of math “in our country.” Regardless, this sweet treatment of numbers and counting may be good prophylaxis against math phobia.

The joys of counting combine with pretty art and homage to Goodnight Moon. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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