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NAAMAH AND THE ARK AT NIGHT by Susan Campbell Bartoletti Kirkus Star


by Susan Campbell Bartoletti & illustrated by Holly Meade

Age Range: 3 - 7

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7636-4242-6
Publisher: Candlewick

The animals march along two by two in most Noah’s Ark stories, but Noah’s partner is often missing altogether. In this unusual interpretation of one of the most popular Bible stories, it’s Noah’s wife who is the star as she sings the arkful of animals to sleep.

The story begins with the great storm and flood waters surrounding the ark at night. The animals “pace and roar and growl,” and Noah has nightmares, but his wife, Naamah, sings all night long, soothing and petting the restless animals. In an intriguing author’s note, Bartoletti explains the origins of the name Naamah as well as the Arabic poetic form used as the text’s structure. This format uses couplets that all end with the same word, with each ending word preceded by a rhyming word. “She sings for moon to fill the night; / She sings for stars to thrill the night.” The text has a lovely, soothing effect, with the repeated ending words and a lilting cadence that effectively suggests a comforting lullaby. Meade’s watercolor collage illustrations match the dramatic pacing of the text with varied perspectives and humorous views of the sleeping (or prowling) animals. Several striking spreads show Naamah and a pair of the largest animals in stark silhouette shapes against a speckled gray background that suggests the night sky.

This captivating interpretation creates a remarkable partner for Noah, who uses her special talent in a memorable way. (Picture book. 3-7)