A picture book about the antics of the imaginary night children.
This cyclic story tells of night children and their nighttime activities, which are, to put it prosaically, anthropomorphized natural events: “It is the night children who chase fireflies until the yard looks full of yellow stars….who rip the leaves off trees….who string gossamer webs across doorways and trees.” Tsiang’s lyric prose gently probes the mystery of the waking and sleeping worlds in her undeniably richly imagined story, but Bodet’s illustrations give it a darker tone. She renders the night children as ephemeral creatures shaped like human children, dressed alike in white and gray, and wearing monster-face hats pulled all the way down to their mostly expressionless mouths. She sets many scenes in stark—and dark—city streets, creating an atmosphere of mystery that verges on creepy. Both the writing and the illustrations work—but separately; the two don’t mesh well together. Tsiang’s words seem to tell of a night filled with innocent imaginative enchantment, while Bodet’s pictures give a scarier impression. The story ends in the light of day, with the city streets replaced by a comfortable suburb, which helps lighten the overall tone.
Imaginative but eerie; the illustrations demand sturdy as well as fanciful readers. (Picture book. 5-8)