CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 23 . . . . February 17, 2012
Anne Laurel Carter. Illustrated by Ninon Pelletier.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2012.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.
Review by Meredith Cleversey.
Reviewed from Advance Review Copy.
Night canít sleep. Heís waiting to play
his favorite game with his big sister, Day.
ďBe patient,Ē Day says. ďItís not dark yet.
You canít look for me until after sunset.Ē
Night counts to ten, throws the moon way up high
and spreads out his blankie to darken the sky.
ďCome and find me!Ē Day calls. ďAs soon as you do,
weíll race back home, and then Iíll look for you.Ē
Night canít wait for his big sister, Day, to come and play with him. Once the sun has set, Night spreads his blankie over the sky to cloak the world in darkness, and he throws the moon up high to take the place of the sun. Then, itís time for the game to start. Day runs and hides so that Night can try to find her, but soon he forgets all about the game as he takes his spaceship into space and paints the night sky with his stars. When Night is tired from all of his play, his sister comes back and puts him to bed, telling him he only has to look west to find her, as she is always waiting there for him.
Night Boy, written by Anne Laurel Carter and illustrated by Ninon Pelletier, is a delightful tale about what happens when the sun sets and the moon rises into the sky. There is an unmistakable magic to this story. Itís a book full of big ideas, wrapped into a simple story that readers can understand and enjoy. Night travels across the galaxy and brings the darkness of space alive through his innocent play. Day runs from one side of the earth to the other, shining over the world while always keeping an eye on her little brother. Itís a story of a sweet sibling relationship, taking the grand concepts of night and day and turning them into something light-hearted and comprehensible even for younger readers.
The text of Night Boy follows a fun rhyming scheme that gives the story a nice flow and adds to the constant movement of the tale; this story is full of action, as Night zooms around in his spaceship, and the rhyming lines help to propel this action forward. However, despite this constant action, Night Boy still has the potential to be a wonderful bed time story, especially to those who may be a little afraid of the dark. The night can be a scary place, but the bookís showing the character of Night as a little boy who paints the sky with stars and always carries his teddy with him wherever he goes makes the mysteries of the dark more comforting. Big sister Day also acts like a protector, taking care of her little brother and shining over him with gentility and love, and these aspects of the story can be great for helping some readers overcome fears of the dark.
This book also presents a great learning opportunity by introducing concepts which may be unfamiliar to readers. The Milky Way, certain star constellations like Orion and the Big Dipper, planets like Venus and Mars, and even aurora borealis are mentioned in this tale. Night Boy is successful, however, at making these concepts accessible to young readers. Aurora borealis is Nightís cape, for instance, and the Milky Way is his snack spilt out into the sky. Again, this book does a wonderful job at taking big concepts and introducing them in a fun and simple way.
The illustrations, done by Ninon Pelletier, add nice details to the story which enhance the magic of Night Boy. Day, for example, looks lovely and elegant with her eyelashes like little crowns and her golden dress adorned with sunflowers. These are the kind of details that make the illustrations a more integral part of the story. Instead of simply echoing what the text says, the images in this book show extra hints of what is going on, adding another level to the tale as a whole. There is also a good use of colour in these images. Since the story is told mostly during the night, there are a lot of dark colours on the pages, but Pelletier uses varying shades of purple, blue, and even some red to make even the darkest pages vibrant.
Anne Laurel Carter and Ninon Pelletier have put together a charming tale about the magic and fun of day and night. Night Boy takes an imaginative look at what happens after the sun goes down and showcases how, even in the darkness of space, happiness and fun can abound. This cute story will appeal to a variety of readers and will make a nice addition to picture book collections.
Meredith Cleversey is a librarian who lives in Cambridge, ON. She loves to read, write, and live in a world of pure imagination.
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