The contrast between darkness and the area illuminated by a flashlight fascinates children, but this title kicks the fun up a notch.
Three kids—a white child with long hair and a baseball cap, another white youngster clutching a teddy bear, and a black boy with a flashlight (the narrator)—are heading for a summer sleepover in the treehouse. Wherever the storyteller focuses the light, the real transforms into the imagined, and the green/gray of night fills with subdued color. Observant eyes will note that even in the first scene, fence posts morph into tree trunks in the glow, and a striped cat becomes a tiger slinking into the “forest.” “FLASHLIGHT,” written once, is the subject of every rhymed couplet that follows: directed under the porch, it “Casts a glow upon a wall / down a dark and ancient hall / as inky shadows rise and fall, / dancing… / to no sound at all.” Hieroglyphs, columns, and an object that is half baseball/half ancient urn fill the space—and are those shadows dogs? Fist-bumping? (Closer examination reveals a humorous twist.) The modest swimming pool inspires a pirate escapade; a rope ladder links to a hot air balloon rescue. The delicious language and ingenious metamorphoses, rendered in pencil and colored digitally, are tied directly to classic books stacked near the sleeping bags.
A rousing read. (Picture book. 4-7)