Review of Kitten and the Night Watchman

Kitten and the Night Watchman
by John Sullivan; illus. by Taeeun Yoo
Preschool     Wiseman/Simon     32 pp.
9/18     978-1-4814-6191-7     $17.99
e-book ed. 978-1-4814-6192-4     $10.99

A night watchman spies a stray kitten one night, and they befriend each other. As the man makes his rounds of the construction site, the kitten accompanies him — until, suddenly, she’s gone. Fortunately, after a few fraught page-turns of worry, the kitten returns, and the night ends happily, with the man taking her home to his young family. Yoo’s textured illustrations are full of atmosphere; they glow with the light of the setting or rising sun or are accented by the beam of the man’s flashlight or a lighted window. Cranes and bulldozers loom in the darkness, and although the mood is not scary, there is a palpable sense of comfort after the kitten begins keeping the man company. Careful viewers will notice a repeated double-page spread (one early in the book as the man makes his rounds, “alone,”and one near the end, with the sun rising and the man now “not alone”); the view is identical except for the change in the light and the presence of the kitten. Sullivan’s text is also very strong, brief yet poetic, and with similes that will resonate with a preschool audience (the full moon “shines like an old friend”; an excavator “bows like a strange giraffe”). Best of all, this quiet, understated book contains a wealth of emotions young children can work through and relate to — from worry to relief to the comfort of belonging.

From the November/December 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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