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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Night Job, written by Karen Hesse and illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Candlewick Press, Penguin Random House. 2018. $22.99 ages 4 and up

"Our radio travels with us from
room to room. We scrub the
cafeteria, then sweep the stage
while listening to a game played
miles away, where the sun is
shining on an emerald field
in a stadium filled with people
eating hot dogs and peanuts and
drinking lemonade. We tack back
and forth down the hallway,
sweeping the school from stem to

I seem to be on a run with stories about dads and their children. Lovely!

In this one, a father and son head out together on an early Friday evening. A lunchbox is packed and tethered to the back of a motorbike ... and they are off!  Across a bridge and straight to the school where his father cleans. Inside they go; the work begins. While Dad cleans the gym floor, his son shoots hoops. They move throughout the building, listening to the radio and sharing the workload.

Their initial work continues until 10, when they take a break in the outer courtyard to have something to eat. The library is next: Dad does the work while the boy finds a book, a pillow and a 'green vinyl sofa' ... the perfect invitation to read and relaxation. He reads aloud to his dad until he succumbs to sleep. When dad has completed the work at hand, he wakes his son, bikes back to their apartment, and the two settle in to quiet slumber. Ahhh!

The first person narrative voice gives such a personal perspective to this hushed, and beautifully told tale. The two work together in quiet familiarity. The gentle, serene telling is just wonderful. There were many moments when I went back to reread the carefully chosen words. Brian Karas uses mixed-media to complement the agreeable mood. The soft colors of dusk and dawn are an invitation to enjoy the bond the two share as they venture out together to a familiar setting, and then home again. 

Full of warmth and wonder, this is a book to treasure. 

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