Not Last Night but the Night Before


Not Last Night but the Night Before by Colin McNaughton, illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark

A little boy runs to answer the door and there are three black cats there.  They rush in and knock him to the ground.  Then the man in the moon is at the door, he also rushes in.  And so one after the other fairy tale characters knock on the door and then shove, push, and knock the boy right down.  Finally when Punch, Judy, Baby and Crocodile knock on the door, they shake hands and greet him warmly.  And that is when readers and the little boy suddenly understand where everyone was headed and why. 

McNaughtons rhymes are bouncy and great fun to read aloud.  They invite you into the silliness and imagination at play here.  Clark’s illustrations are equally inviting as they depict beloved characters.  I particularly love the way the characters wait patiently and sweetly at the door but then proceed to barge in and down goes the boy again.  That little tension before each onslaught is delicious. 

This is ideal for reading aloud.  It will work best for children who know the characters, but those just learning about them will enjoy the energy and fun here too.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Here Comes Jack Frost

Here Comes Jack Frost by Kazuno Kohara

The author of Ghosts in the House returns with another great seasonal title.  A lonely boy who hates winter discovers frosty patterns on his windows and then Jack Frost himself.  Jack Frost playfully runs away from the boy, telling him that he can’t jump over the pond.  But the boy had ice skates and he and his dog twirl across the ice.  When Jack Frost runs over a hill, the boy and his dog use a sled.  After a rousing snowball fight, Jack Frost agrees to stay with the boy as long as he never mentions anything warm.  So they build snowmen, ski, and play.  Until one day, there are signs of spring.

The story here is charming, filled with all of the classic winter ways to play.  Kohara’s prose is clear and simple.  It is the illustrations that really make the book soar with their bright whites and blues that range from icy to midnight.  Without any spangles or sparkles, this book gleams with cold.  Prickly Jack Frost with his sharp lines contrasts beautifully with the boy in his rounded hat and coat. 

A marvelous choice for snowy story times, this book is ideal for toddlers.  Read it at home with plenty of blankets and a mug of cocoa to keep cuddly.  Appropriate for ages 2-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by A Year of Reading.