A visual rhapsody in blue.
The front endpapers of this slightly oversized picture book offer 32 daubs of blue ranging in value from pale blue to midnight blue, giving readers a sense of what’s to come. The opening text relates, “The day ends. / The night falls. / And in between… / there is the blue hour.” This is printed in blue, natch, on a pale-blue sky. As readers turn the pages, they are introduced to a dizzying variety of blue creatures, some generic (blue-feathered songbirds, silver-blue sardines) and others exotically specific (vulturine guineafowl, blue monkeys, blue poison dart frogs). As the titular “blue hour” progresses, page backgrounds deepen, until the final page, which presents silhouettes of many of the animals and plants described against a midnight-blue, star-spangled sky. Taken individually, each image dazzles, from an astonishing close-up of a blue morpho butterfly to an expansive landscape, the slightly paler-blue silhouette of a Russian blue cat slinking off in the bottom right-hand corner. Taken all together, however, there is a frustrating lack of definition, as these flora and fauna do not all inhabit one biome or even time zone, as the rear endpapers, a map of the world with white silhouettes of the animals placed where they are found, attest. This dismantles the inviting conceit of the “blue hour” as an organizational concept.
Lovely, if poorly hung together. (Picture book. 4-8)