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ONCE UPON A NORTHERN NIGHT by Jean E. Pendziwol Kirkus Star


by Jean E. Pendziwol ; illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Age Range: 3 - 5

Pub Date: Aug. 13th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-55498-138-0
Publisher: Groundwood

“Once upon a northern night / while you lay sleeping, / wrapped in a downy blanket, / I painted you a picture.”

This opening text (which begins on the title page) stages the stark scene of a boy sleeping in a bed in darkness. “It started with one tiny flake // ...until the earth was / wrapped in a downy blanket, / just like you.” Each verse starts with the title line, creating a hushed, nighttime lullaby that is illustrated with soft, atmospheric, black-and-white images of all the activity that fills this quiet, snowy night. Spots of color dot the pages, demonstrating how effective and dramatic black and white can be. There are sprinkles of green pine needles, yellow eyes and beak on the owl, and the red tail of a fox. Artwork and words are skillfully balanced with descriptive phrasing: “pine trees held out prickly hands”; “a mother deer led her fawn”; “a great gray owl gazed down”; “two horseshoe hares / scampered”; “a small mouse / …scurried along the deck / …mounded with snowy white / like vanilla ice cream.” The final verse repeats the first and completes the experience.

A beautiful, lyrical celebration of northern light and night. (Picture book. 3-5)