Animals turn topsy-turvy in fear of things that go bump in the night.
Nighttime can be scary, but Marino’s black cover uses a supershiny silver title and a opossum with comically exaggerated trepidation on his face to assure that this story isn’t spooky—at least, not for readers. It sure spooks the splendid animal characters, who pose fabulously on the inside of the jacket next to nonfiction zoological details. In a dark forest, Possum hunkers inside a hollow tree. A skunk joins him. They scrunch down together, bodies merging with hole’s blackness so only their googly eyes and the skunk’s white nose-stripe show. A gray wolf and grizzly bear appear, frightening the others but terrified themselves. The animals hug trees, clutch and cling to one another, and tumble about in fright. The skunk holds Possum upside down by his tail over the wolf’s back; Possum repeatedly plays dead, even assuring himself in a thought bubble, “I’m not here.” Every page is visually funny, with hilarious close-ups and slapstick animal postures. A bat asks what they’re scared of, and they answer, “night animals”; the bat’s reply, though obvious, is still uproarious: “But you ARE night animals.” Gouache-and-ink illustrations place the animals’ antics in a smooth, two-dimensional black forest background with sparse, beige-gray birch trees.
A giggle-inducing new gem for the night-fears bookshelf. (Picture book. 3-7)