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Review of Night Out

Night Out
by Daniel Miyares; illus. by the author
Primary    Schwartz & Wade/Random    40 pp.    g
5/18    978-1-5247-6572-9    $17.99
Library ed.  978-1-5247-6573-6    $20.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5247-6574-3    $10.99

Boarding school (or perhaps it’s some kind of residential institution) is lonely for the solitary boy in this magical after-dark adventure. We see only one instance of his separateness from the other boys — a dining-room scene in which he eats alone — but it’s enough to establish his isolation and heartache. One extraordinary night (even the glowing full moon looms larger than life through the window), he spots an invitation leaning against the terrarium that houses his pet turtle — who seems to have left the building. Sneaking out under cover of darkness, the boy bikes through the tall school gates and across a wooded landscape to meet a giant turtle (presumably his pet magically enlarged). Astride his friend, the boy is delivered to a cave, where other animals (a goose, hare, bear, owl, and fox) have gathered for tea and some foot-stomping. It’s a boisterous jamboree, complete with the fox on banjo and the hare on harmonica. As the sun rises, the boy sneaks back into the room he shares with his roommates and regales them with the story of his nocturnal exploits. Whether or not it was all a dream is irrelevant; the boy’s telling is compelling enough. Miyares’s atmospheric illustrations at the start of the story display a muted palette, which then blooms into light and color when the boy dines and kicks up his heels with his new friends. The text — short phrases and brief 
dialogue — is spare but almost unnecessary, as the illustrations tell us all we need to know about the power of story to bring people together.

From the May/June 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Danielson About Julie Danielson

Julie Danielson writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She also writes for Kirkus Reviews and BookPage and is a lecturer for the School of Information Sciences graduate program at the University of Tennessee. Her book Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and Peter D. Sieruta, was published in 2014.

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