Review: The Insomniacs by Karina Wolf


The Insomniacs by Karina Wolf, illustrated by the Brothers Hilts

When Mrs. Insomniac gets a new job, the family moves 12 time zones to their new home.  They had been a regular day-light family, but in the new place they found it hard to stay awake in the day and fall asleep at night.  They tried everything from warm milk to meditation, but nothing worked.  Looking out of their dark windows, they discovered that there were many nocturnal animals out there.  There were bats, bears, and owls.  So the family decided to spend their awake time in the darkness.  They had breakfast at dusk, grew moonlight cactuses as a garden, studied the stars and attended night school.  They are a happy night-time family.

Wolf has created a gorgeous tribute to the wonders of the night here with a delight of a strange family as the lens.  There are such lovely little moments like watching “the fishes nipping at the surface of the sea: when the family goes moonbathing.  The family adventures out and finds the flower market open and the bakeries bustling.  It makes one want to head out in the darkness and see what is happening in your community.  There is also a memorable tribute to the dark side of nature and nocturnal animals that removes the scare and makes the entire nighttime welcoming.

The Brothers Hilts’ illustrations glow with the light of the moon and play darkness upon darkness.  The entire book is shadowy, but somehow also cheery and dazzling.  Darkness is celebrated in all of its black and blue beauty.

A treat of a picture book, this is a quirky winner that will have everyone staying up well past their bedtimes.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from G. P. Putnam’s Sons.