Review of Everyone's Awake

Everyone’s Awake
by Colin Meloy; illus. by Shawn Harris
Primary    Chronicle    48 pp.
3/20    978-1-4521-7805-9    $17.99

Meloy and Harris depict one family’s anarchical bedtime routine within their ramshackle lighthouse-esque domicile. ­Rollicking rhymes, narrated by a young family member, set the scene: “We all got / tucked in early. / A full tomorrow waits. / But here / It’s almost midnight. / And everyone’s awake!” The activities listed in the peppy text begin sedately enough, with Grandma doing needlework and Dad baking bread. But as the night wears on, the events get wilder and wilder: “the cat is giving poke tattoos and prank-calling the cops.” The protagonist, who is the only one trying to get to sleep, mostly observes and wrings hands (“I’m really not quite certain how much more that I can take”). But just as our narrator decides to give up on restfulness — the sun comes up, and the wild family members’ eyelids go down. Harris’s exuberant, page-filling illustrations (“printed in three spot-colors…grayscale plates were rendered with India ink, charcoal, and pencil”) feature richly saturated hues. While the outside is all midnight-blues and whites (think Tomi Ungerer), nothing about the indoors is conducive to sleep, with a bright sunshiny yellow that would disrupt anyone’s circadian rhythms.

From the May/June 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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