Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The House in the Night

Swanson, Susan Marie. 2008. THE HOUSE IN THE NIGHT. Ill. by Beth Krommes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 9780618862443 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-1]

This simple Caldecott winning bedtime story begins with a golden key placed in the hand of a small child: “Here is the key to the house.” Spare phrases on each double page spread pair with Krommes’ intricate black and white scratchboard art that fills two pages at once to depict a familiar evening ritual. In each of the otherwise darkly monochrome illustrations, touches of gold provide reassuring illumination: “In the house burns a light. In that light rests a bed. On that bed waits a book.” Words and pictures take young readers into the pages of the book, out into the starry night and eventually out into space before returning, step by step, to “the house in the night, a home full of light.” The cumulative tale comes full circle in a satisfying conclusion.

An author’s note indicates Swanson based her story on the traditional nursery rhyme that begins “This is the key to the kingdom.” This new version, set in the comforting warmth of a child’s home makes a perfect selection for bedtime. In the mold of classics like GOODNIGHT MOON, it begs to be read repeatedly.

Explain that the technique for creating the illustrations in this book is called scratchboard. Instead of adding color to the page, artists scratch it away. Provide scratch-art paper for children to use in creating their own art.

Other picture books based on traditional tales with cumulative patterns:
Jackson, Alyson. I KNOW AN OLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED A PIE. ISBN 9780525456452
Kimmel, Eric. THE GINGERBREAD MAN. ISBN 9780823411375
Pinkney, Brian. HUSH LITTLE BABY. ISBN 9780060559939
Taback, Simms. THIS IS THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT. ISBN 9780399234880

By Suzy Parchman

No comments: