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by Mượn Thị Văn ; illustrated by Kelly Pousette

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-5253-0014-1
Publisher: Kids Can

A child explores a busy nocturnal world.

“If you were the night / and you saw the moon / tiptoe past your window,” begins this poetic story, “would you nestle under the covers? / Or would you stretch and rise / and step out, too?” The beige-skinned child in a gray, hooded jumpsuit observes a host of nighttime animals and joins in their activities; a raccoon rooting through trash, frogs singing, an owl hunting. The gorgeous, shadowy illustrations leap off the pages, three-dimensional paper constructions that manage to balance the darkness of night with the brightness of nature. The text attempts an ethereal style, reminiscent of Julie Fogliano’s If I Was the Sunshine (illustrated by Loren Long, 2009), but never quite makes the leap into the loveliness it’s clearly aiming for. The central conceit, personifying “you” as “night,” is promising but also stops short of making sense; night does not “skitter like a startled mouse,” “shrink from the cold,” or “hide behind a shadow,” and a sudden shift to first person, in the form of a quiet deer, never resolves. Despite these issues, the overall tone of the book and the calming, soothing arc, will help this find some success as a bedtime story. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 19% of actual size.)

An ambitious idea that slightly misses the mark.

(Picture book. 3-7)