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Review of Flashlight Night

Flashlight Night
by Matt Forrest Esenwine; illus. by Fred Koehler
Primary    Boyds Mills    32 pp.
9/17    978-1-62979-493-8    $16.95

On any dark night, a flashlight illuminating shadows can create delicious thrills. Here, a trio of kids is seen on the title page crossing a dark backyard toward a tree house. A boy carries a stack of books, a girl carries a sleeping-bag roll on her head, and a toddler trails behind wearing pajamas. Once the children are in the tree house, the older boy shines a flashlight on his face, ghost story–style, and the rhythmic text begins: “Flashlight… / opens up the night. / Leads you past old post and rail / along a long-forgotten trail.” The children venture from the tree house and into the woods (“no others dare, / for fear of what is waiting there”), and the digitally colored pencil drawings show the realistic elements of the backyard in the darker parts of the picture, with the transformed and spooky new surroundings in the beam of light emitted by the flashlight. It’s an old-fashioned, rip-roaring imaginary adventure, complete with a pirate, an ancient Egyptian chamber, and traveling to a “foreign shore.” At the end, the kids are shown huddled around a book, reading with a flashlight, and the old-timeyness of the story is echoed by the stack of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson titles beside them. The detailed pictures are too dark to work with groups, but they reward careful, close examination.

From the September/October 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Susan Dove Lempke About Susan Dove Lempke

Susan Dove Lempke is a Horn Book reviewer and director of the Niles Public Library District in Illinois.

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