If You Were Night
If You Were Night
If You Were Night is a charming lullaby, fit to take its place beside Eve Rice’s soporific Goodnight, Goodnight or even the classic Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.
Our bedtime adventure begins like this:
If you were night and you saw the moon tiptoe
past your window, would you nestle under the covers?
Or would you stretch and rise and step out too?
The very next spread is one of my favourites for its tonal image:
If you were night and you heard a moth slurping,
would you whisper, “Hush!”?
Or would you lean in and sip the sweetness too?
I have never heard a moth slurp, but I will be listening for it now next time I am out in the dark.
‘Night’ is embodied by a gleeful sleepered child reveling in the secrets of a shadowy garden busy with the activities of its nocturnal denizen. Encounters with raccoons, frogs, owls and a startled deer are described as we move through the magical landscape
As you might expect, our young explorer finds herself back in bed at the end of the book. The visit to the garden is over, and it is time to be tucked up with a dream.
If you were night and all around was quiet
and all around was growing bright, would you
stay up to taste a drop of morning dew?
Or would you close your tired eyes and let
the lightness carry you, too?
Author Muon Thi Van captures the essence of a child’s near-sleep imaginings with the chanting cadence of the short text in this lap-sized book.
The paper cut dioramas of animal and plant shapes in glowing pastel colours are silhouetted against a rich black ground. On some pages, the subject is illuminated in a way that evokes the beam of a flashlight glancing across a pond or the verge of a path. Shadows accentuate the three-dimensionality of the pictures. Artist Kelly Pousette lives in northern British Columbia, and, although she has experimented with various media, she excels in the technique used here. She has accomplished the goal stated in the Kids Can’s thumbnail biography – to express the peace she feels when outdoors and to “bring the viewer into the scene”.
Librarians, teachers and parents will enjoy using If You Were Night to reinforce the use of colourful vocabulary, to talk about the life of the nighttime world, and just for its reassuring tone as a bedtime lilt.
Ellen Heaney is a retired children’s librarian living in Coquitlam, British Columbia.