Late one night, a young boy is awakened by a meow. It seems his cat Silvie wants to go out, and even though he thinks it may be too late or perhaps too early, the boy gets up and tiptoes past his sleeping parents and sibling and down the stairs.
The whole house is dark and unfamiliar to the boy. "It's like a different place" he says as he and his cat creep along to the front door. But opening the door, under a sky of dazzlingly bright stars, lies a world of shadow, familiar, yet unfamiliar at the same time. Nestled in the shadows of trees and bushes, you can see the silhouette of the boy, the cat, even the boy's bike.
Looking at the roses and sunflowers, the boy wonders what happened to their color. Soon animals, a porcupine, a rabbit and a deer and others appear and seem to be whispering to the boy "It's almost here." Then, birds everywhere begin to sing the same thing, and even Sylvie joins in - each speaking their own particular animal language.
Before long, the darkness gives way to a glow, and as dawn arrives, the animals leave - daytime is their time to sleep. As the sun rises and colors the world once again, a look of wonder crosses the boy's face as the birds sing "It's going to be a beautiful day." Hearing stirrings and yawns in the house, the boy sings, too.
Using a mix of pen, ink, colored pencils and acrylics, Gerstein begins his celebration of nightly secrets and the arrival of dawn with shadowy blacks and grays on gray paper with touches of white. As dawn arrives, the dark paper give way to lighter paper and more color.
And I love how Gerstein took the same perspective and showed the world going from night to bright morning, adding more color to each picture, as the boy and Sylvie watch.
I first read this book like I do all picture books, slowly and exploring each illustration and the text to make sure they compliment each other. Then I read it again, looking at the details of each illustration. But for The Night World, I got out my magnifying glass and read it yet again. Then I commandeered a young reader and we read the book together. She loved it, but she isn't afraid of the dark. But her younger brother is, so we read it with him and although there was some reservation at first, but the time we finished it, he was hooked. As for myself, I noticed different things each time I read it, making The Night World a better book with each reading.
The Night World would, of course, make a great bedtime story, but don't be surprised if your young readers want to get up early and greet the dawn. I remember doing that with my Kiddo at the beach when she was young and it was definitely worth it - she still brings it up. And be sure to read the Author's Note at the back of the book, telling how The Night World came about - he put it right in the middle of the Milky Way for you celestial enjoyment.
This book is recommended for readers age 3+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL