Review: The Longest Night by Laurel Snyder

longest night

The Longest Night: A Passover Story by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Catia Chien

This Passover picture book tells the story of the Exodus from the point of view of a young slave girl.  Readers first get a sense of the harsh environment and difficult lives of the Jewish people: the heat, the hard labor, the slavery.  Then come the plagues, one after another.  Finally there is the Exodus itself, the thrill and fear of fleeing in the darkness.  And finally, the miracle of the sea splitting in two, giving them safe passage away from Egypt. 

Written in rhyme, Snyder has created a book filled with rhythm and a story that moves swiftly along through the different parts of the Exodus.  Her choice of telling the story from the point of view of a child makes the story all the more personal and dramatic. 

Chien’s illustrations are just as dramatic with their deep color palette.  Especially moving are the natural moments, when the little girl finds openness and freedom in the world around her, though she can’t find it personally.  At these moments, the sky is huge and beautiful, but quickly the grit and sand return. 

A powerful and lovely exploration of the Old Testament tale of the Exodus given a fresh and personal aspect.  Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Schwartz & Wade.

Review: Lucky Ducklings by Eva Moore

lucky ducklings

Lucky Ducklings by Eva Moore, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

Based on a true story, this book follows the walk of a mother duck and her small ducklings.  They follow her out of the pond, through the grass of the park, and into town.  They ate a bite from the overflowing garbage can and then headed off the curb and over a storm drain.  But while Mama Duck made it over the grate with no problems, her ducklings fell through one by one.  It could have been a sad ending to the story, but it wasn’t!  The people who saw it happened called for help.  It took firemen and someone with a winch on their truck to save all of the ducklings. 

Moore has created a story that has a real appeal.  It is the story of tiny ducklings that at first seems very sweet, then takes a very dangerous turn.  Throughout, she tells the readers that that could have been the end of the story, but it wasn’t.  Using this device, she creates both drama and also the assurance that thing will be alright in the end.  Her writing has repetition that makes it perfect for very young children.  The environmental message is subtle but profound.

Carpenter’s ducks seem to be drawn with a nod to McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings.  The book feels vintage with the small town coming together to save this small family of ducks.  Carpenter celebrates both the natural setting and also the people themselves.  Her use of separated images that form one larger image to name the little ducklings works particularly well. 

Ideal for a duckling story time and perfect for spring, read this one alongside Make Way for Ducklings.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Orchard Books.