Time for Bed, Old House by Janet Costa Bates

Cover image for Time for Bed, Old House.

Time for Bed, Old House by Janet Costa Bates, illustrated by AG Ford (9781536209983)

Isaac is on his very first sleepover at Grandpop’s house. He’s had a great time, but isn’t looking forward to sleeping away from home. Isaac insists that he isn’t sleepy, so he and Grandpop put the house to bed together. They move quietly and slowly, turning off the lights. As the house gets darker, Isaac hears noises, but they are easily explained as being the dog or the wind moving the swings outside. The window shades are closed for the night and they head upstairs, listening to the sounds of the creaking house. Then Isaac reads a picture book aloud and puts Grandpop to sleep. Then it’s up to him to listen to the sounds of the house and say good night.

This is a gentle story about sleeping over at a grandparent’s home for the first time. Isaac is unsure but also excited, an accurate portrayal of the mix of feelings that young children have at staying away from home, particularly for the first time. The quiet and slow good-night process adds to the lovely bedtime tone. I particularly appreciate that it is a grandfather doing this loving moment with his grandson.

The illustrations offer just the right mixture of glowing lights, gathering darkness, and warmth as this Black grandfather and grandson share a special evening together. This book is not one to startle or scare and the illustrations take real care in exposing what the noises actually are in the house. The empowering final scenes when Isaac is the last one up also set the perfect tone.

Quiet and filled with building self-esteem. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Candlewick.

The Midnight Club by Shane Goth

Cover image for The Midnight Club.

The Midnight Club by Shane Goth, illustrated by Yong Ling Kang (9781771473941)

Milly waited in her bed until it was midnight and then she woke up her big sister, Becca. It was time for Midnight Club. The two headed out of bed, quietly sneaking past their parents bedroom door. They tiptoed over each shadow, not touching a single one. The entire house looked different in the middle of the night with the blue of moonlight. The girls munched on Dad’s jellybeans while sitting in his special chair. They tried on their mother’s coat until they got scared by the shadows moving, thinking it was a monster. They followed the cat around on midnight rambles around the house. Then it was time to head back to bed, but only after putting everything back so that Midnight Club stayed a secret.

Filled with the thrill of doing something just a touch naughty and a lot mischievous, this picture book is full of moments where you will hold your breath for a bit. Creaky stairs, stretching over shadows, the possibility of monsters, all create a delight of wonder. The book entirely captures the thrill of being out at night as a child and the joy of sharing that with your sister.

The illustrations show the colors of full night with the purples and blues of the shadows and the pale lemon of the moon shining into the room. The images focus on the two sisters and their relationship, showing them interacting as they play together throughout the house at night.

Full of sisterly love and moonlight. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Owlkids.

Everybody in the Red Brick Building by Anne Wynter

Cover image for Everybody in the Red Brick Building.

Everybody in the Red Brick Building by Anne Wynter, illustrated by Oge Mora (9780062865762)

Everybody in the red brick building was sleeping until Baby Izzie howled in her crib. That set off a chain reaction that got lots of people in the building awake. Rayhan tried to quietly check on his parrot, who shouted to Wake up! The boys sleeping outside got into a game of flashlight tag. Natalia set off her light-up rocket. And the noise kept growing with a car alarm too. Then quiet returned with the street sweeper going by, acorns plonking down, windchimes, and Izzie getting snuggles. Finally, everyone in the red brick building was asleep – again.

Wynter takes a classic children’s story structure and brings the noises to a full cacophony before returning the building steadily to quiet again. The book is a great mixture of wildness in the middle of the night and then quieting to fall asleep, making it a great book to get restless children to bed. The text is filled with repeating loud noises that children will enjoy joining in to help make them even louder. As the book quiets down, the sounds become soft and gentle while staying just as enjoyable as before.

Mora’s illustrations are done in colorful paper collage that show the diverse community that lives in the red brick building together. The colors take the deep blue of night to the orange warmth of indoors to teals, lavenders, and yellows. The colors are engaging, making each page turn a new room of its own. The illustrations are just as dynamic as the book, and that is certainly saying something!

A great read-aloud bedtime book. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Balzer +Bray.

The Night Walk by Marie Dorleans

The Night Walk by Marie Dorleans (9781782506393)

Full of deep blue, this picture book takes a family and readers out of their beds and into the night. They get awoken by Mom in the middle of the night, get dressed and head outside. Crickets were chirping outside in the darkness. They walked through the sleeping village, past the brightly-lit hotel, and out into the countryside with the summer night around them. Their eyes adjusted to the darkness, letting them see the cows in the pastures and find the path as they left the road. They headed into the forest until they reached a small pond, where they played with the moon’s reflection and their flashlight beam. They stopped to take a break and looked at the vast sky overhead, stars alight. Then they reached a rocky hillside and climbed, up and up. And that’s when they realized they had gotten there just in time!

The winner of the Landerneau Children’s Book Prize, this French import is a deep and amazing read. It invites us all to think about adventuring out into the world in the dark, discovering how the world feels with nature around us, darkness, summer heat and wonder. The text in the book is simple, guiding us through the night’s adventure, pointing out what can be seen and heard, and allowing us all to marvel at the world covered in night. The text never gets in the way of our amazement, instead encouraging us to see more and play along.

The blue, oh the blue in this book. It perfectly captures the night, light only by the moon and the stars. Broken at times by windows or flashlight beams or passing trains, the night is allowed to take over all of the pages. Dorleans lets us squint a bit, as if our own eyes are adjusting to the darkness, to spot badgers and mice and deer. That blue drops away as dawn comes, almost worth shielding one’s eyes after being in the dark for so long.

Brilliant, magical and immersive. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy provided by Floris Books.

We Wait for the Sun by Katie McCabe

Cover image

We Wait for the Sun by Katie McCabe, illustrated by Raissa Figueroa (9781250229021)

This picture book is based on one of Dovey Johnson Roundtree’s favorite stories of her childhood and her grandmother, Rachel Bryant Graham. Born over 100 years ago, Roundtree grew up to be a renowned civil rights attorney. She and her grandmother headed into the night in midsummer. They move through the darkness to the woods to gather blackberries. As they walk through the night, other women join them, silent in the dark. The darkness gets thicker as they move into the woods, and Dovey’s grandmother encourages her to hold onto her apron strings and let her eyes adjust. They reach the blackberry clearing and everyone gets to work but not before Dovey gets the first and best berry to eat. They pick berries, the women chatting, until the sky turns pink and at her grandmother’s command the sun rises over the horizon.

McCabe takes a powerful moment in Roundtree’s life and turns it into a picture book that invites children to explore the woods at night and not be afraid. There is a sense of adventure throughout the book illuminated with the wonder of being out in a summer night. The profound silence of the night and its darkness make for a book full of mystery with text that asks to be read in a hushed tone to share the moment with one another all the way through sunrise.

Figueroa’s illustrations are rich and beautiful. She takes the darkness and tinges it with blue, teal and purple to show paths, faces and the women walking together. She also sweeps the path with fireflies and glimmers, adding to the wonder of the book.

A story that serves as an allegory for resilience, going through the darkness and knowing the sun will rise. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Roaring Brook Press.

Dusk Explorers by Lindsay Leslie

Dusk Explorers by Lindsay Leslie, illustrated by Ellen Rooney (9781624148712)

Head outside into the early summer evening in this picture book. Play in the trees and see who can climb highest. Enjoy leapfrogging, kick the can, and running while playing tag. Take the time though to feel the bark, watch the leaves, discover worms, and hunt for frogs. Find a quiet curb to share some secrets before a game of hide and seek. As night continues to fall, the fireflies emerge. Soon parents are calling for children to head home and the neighborhood gets quiet until the children emerge again into the darkness as the moon rises.

Leslie cleverly shows the joys of being outside as darkness comes by weaving together plenty of games and activities with quieter moments of discovery. The resulting laughter combines with feeling safe and able to be on your own in the dark. Many of the games and activities are unique to just this time of day like the firefly catching and kick the can while others can be enjoyed at any time of day.

The illustrations by Rooney are done in vibrant mixed media with paint, collage and digital elements. They are filled with diverse children, all playing with one another. They also capture the changing light and colors of the sky beautifully as dusk and evening emerge.

Just right for summer afternoons so that children can experience their own dusk that night. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy provided by Page Street Kids.

Review: Night Light by Nicholas Blechman

night light

Night Light by Nicholas Blechman

Count from one to ten in this picture book all about lights at night.  The book begins with a black page and just one light shining through from a die cut to the page beyond.  Turn the page and you see that one light is a train.  Keep turning and you start counting more and more lights, each attached to a different vehicle.  Some of the pages have clues so that you can guess what sort of vehicle it is.  This is a book perfect for small children to start to count and ideal for children who love trucks, planes and trains.

Blechman keeps his writing very simple.  The real draw of the book is the clever use of die cuts to show just the lights before you turn the page.  The blackness of the page also adds to the drama and suspense very nicely.  The book is printed on heavier pages, making it very friendly for toddler hands.

A simple and engaging book for young truck lovers that is a mix of counting and guessing game.  Appropriate for ages 1-3.