Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Good Night Walk

Cooper, Elisha. 2005. A GOOD NIGHT WALK. New York: Orchard. ISBN 0439687837 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-K]

“Let’s go for a walk, along the block, and see what we can see, before it’s time for bed.” With these words, a parent and child begin an evening walk around their neighborhood observing all the sights, sounds and smells as evening approaches. This calming picture book is so simple in its text, yet so lyrical and descriptive at the same time: “…And there’s the bay, with long boats on top, and the round moon rising above.” Each page of the story is written to depict a leisurely pace and quiet tone so as to observe what is happening in the neighborhood. Children will love its simplicity and familiar scenes.

While the text is engaging, it is the illustrations that really make this picture book delightful. The scenes are done in watercolor and outlined in pencil with each page flowing naturally into the next. For example, the reader sees a two page spread of an oak tree with two squirrels in it, while on the next page half of the same tree is shown with the two squirrels scampering across the clothesline. Both the squirrels and the clothesline are part of the story adding continuity to the text. Because this walk is happening in the evening, the reader observes, through the illustrations, that the day is getting darker. Streets light are shown on, the background sky subtly gets darker, and shadows are drawn for the sidewalk objects. This story, with a winning combination of text and illustrations, is clearly a perfect bedtime story.

Young readers can orally compare their neighborhood with the neighborhood in the story for similarities and differences. Also discuss different types of neighborhoods such as rural and city.

Other great bedtime stories that are calming
Brown, Margaret Wise. GOODNIGHT MOON. ISBN 0060207051
Rylant, Cynthia. THE STARS WILL STILL SHINE. ISBN 0060546409

By Pamela Kemp

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