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Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Night World, written and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein. Little, Brown and Company, Hachette. 2015. $20.00 ages 3 and up

"Everyone is sleeping,
even the goldfish.

Everyone except for
Sylvie and me.

Is this our house?
In the dark, it seems
a different place.

"Me-out!" says Sylvie."

After saying good night to his cat before sunset invites darkness to envelop the world, the young boy sleeps peacefully. Much later he hears Sylvie's plaintive cry to be released to the nighttime shadows. Although he tries to explain that it is not a good time to be out there, she will not be deterred. She is a cat with something important on her mind.

Together, they tiptoe through darkness; the only color visible are the cat's green eyes. They are the two members of the household awake, and they carefully make their way to the door without disturbing anyone else. The house is in shadow, making it seem unfamiliar and a trifle unsettling. Then, Sylvie speaks:

"Me-out!" says Sylvie. "It's coming."
"What's coming?"
"It's almost here," she says. "Hurry!"

The night world offers welcome with its starry sky, its comfortable shadows, its nocturnal animal guests. They are all excited and anticipatory. Something is coming, and they are eager in their for its arrival. Do you know what it is?

You will as you turn each glorious page. Shapes become easier to recognize, all eyes are turned upward, and 'there is a glow'. Turn once more, and color begins to emerge from the shadows. As the shadows begin to retreat, the animals do the same. For they are nighttime creatures, not meant to be out when dawn breaks. Break it does! With it, all the beauty of the boy's surroundings and the promise of a new day. As animals fade into the darkness of surrounding shadows, the boy and his cat return to the house and the morning hubbub of a family awakening, too.

Using acrylics, pen and ink, and colored pencils, Mr. Gerstein shares the mystery of the night, both inside and outside. Then, when the darkness makes way for light, he shows the beauty to be found in each new dawn. What a celebration of nature this new book from the incomparable Mr. Gerstein is! It has already found a place on my '10' shelf. Glorious!

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