At Night

At Night by Jonathan Bean.

This small and charming picture book offers a look at a long night when a small girl cannot fall asleep.  Her entire family sleeps around her, but she can’t sleep until she follows a breeze from her window, up the stairs up to the roof of her urban building.  Up on the roof, under her blanket and in a chair, she happily falls asleep.  Her mother joins her there, looking out at the night with a cup of coffee.

This book is simply lovely.  The illustrations are an integral part of the storytelling here.  When the child can’t sleep, the illustrations are boxed in by black lines with only a few images opening to the complete page.  Once she reaches the roof, the pages open to broad expanses so that the reader feels the sense of relief and space and even breezes along with her. 

The illustrations in the book have the feel of a Sendak to me in their color and style.  There is that feeling of home but a sense that anything could happen deep in the art.  The text is short, clear and crisp until she reaches the roof where the words and ideas expand along with the vista. 

This is a wonderful book that should be read to every child heading for bed.  It is a gem that I hope stays with families and libraries a long, long time.  Lovely.

Lissy's Friends

Lissy’s Friends by Grace Lin.

I am a great fan of Lin’s.  She manages to do short, friendly picture books with a uniquely Asian perspective and universal appeal.

In this book, Lissy has moved to a new school.  No one is friendly with her at all.  She begins to build her own friends out of origami so she will never be alone again.  Her mother continues to push her to play with the other children, and Lissy heads out to the playground with all of her origami friends.  But when she pushes them on the merry-go-round, they fly away in the breeze.  Lissy is heart-broken until she finds that her paper friends have led her to some real ones.

The book is filled with Lin’s characteristic illustrations where the sky is filled with swirls, and patterns cover the world.  It creates a vivid and inviting setting for her characters.  The language is accessible for children and they will recognize the struggle to make new friends and be thrilled with the use of origami as a bridge to friendship. 

Recommended for classes doing origami or as a read aloud when new students join a class.  But families should not save it until then.  It is a very nice book to share with children who are preschoolers through Kindergarten.