The Midnight Fair by Gideon Sterer, illustrated by Mariachiara Di Giorgio (9781536211153)
This wordless picture book tells the story of a county fair set up at the edge of a woods. From the woods, animals peek out at the lights and sounds of the fair as it is built and then filled with activity and people. At night, when the people leave, it’s time for the animals to have some fun. The raccoons sneak in a break in the fence and throw on the electricity. Soon the games, rides and food are open for business with payment in acorns, rocks and leaves. The animals ride the rides, staff the booths, share snacks and have a great time until dawn breaks. They tidy up and head back to the woods, but the surprised man who opens the fair finds plenty of evidence that something happened that night.
This book is so lovely. It takes the shared experience of a county fair for humans and turns it into something strange and wondrous. There are so many moments caught in the images here: a porcupine covered in sweets, a fawn managing to ride a carousel horse, a rabbit whizzing by on the swing ride, and a bear cub buying ice cream with acorns. One after another, the images are immediately iconic and touching without being saccharine. The golden light of the fair lights turns everything magical, just as it does when you go to a fair in person.
This visit to the fair is one that everyone should take, even if you don’t care for the rides. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Candlewick.