A comforting bedtime story, especially if parents are heading out to work.

This book won’t put an end to children’s fear of the dark, but it’s a good start.

Nighttime looks almost joyous in this picture book devoted to the work that happens when the sun goes down. The sky is a different color on every page—sometimes blue-green, like the sea, other times a duskier blue, dotted with birds and stars. The city streets are filled with diverse workers performing acts of kindness. Luigi, a light-skinned baker, is making warm pastries for people’s breakfasts; Fiona, a light-skinned midwife, helps deliver babies. This reassuring tale also calls attention to people who might be overlooked. Dylan and Ruby, brown-skinned and light-skinned, stock the shelves at the supermarket. Eva, light-skinned, sells groceries, doughnuts, and coffee all night long. Brown-skinned Lem “plays their saxophone in a band.” However, an especially rosy depiction of law enforcement—Hassan and Amina, a brown-skinned pair of police officers, are called about a noise in the street but find it’s only a family of foxes—may raise eyebrows. The book is narrated by a brown-skinned child whose brown-skinned mother, readers learn, is a late-night bus driver. If the story has a fault, it’s that it may be too gentle. There’s so little conflict that, at times, there’s almost no story. But children who get anxious at bedtime—especially those affected by the news—may appreciate the calmness of the text and the wonderfully busy paintings, with a worker in every corner. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A comforting bedtime story, especially if parents are heading out to work. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-2751-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nosy Crow

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022


From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017


The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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