Review of Night Walk

Night Walk
by Sara O’Leary; illus. by Ellie Arscott
Preschool, Primary    Groundwood    32 pp.    g
9/20    978-1-55498-796-2    $18.95
e-book ed.  978-1-55498-797-9    $16.95

“Can’t sleep?” asks the narrator’s dad. “Come on, we’ll go for a walk” — and the two set off into the night. This small adventure, described in the child’s observant voice, is a lovely, calming exploration of the idea of home. As they walk through their neighborhood, the child notices that she and her father are not the only ones up and about. Through a window above the corner store, she sees the “sad-looking” store owner joyfully reaching for a baby. Now the narrator realizes not only that the woman “wasn’t always sad” but that the store is also a home. She looks into well-lit windows, observes that each streetlamp creates its own island of light, and marvels that so many people are out this late. Throughout, her observations make it clear how fresh and new her neighborhood feels, while still remaining comfortingly familiar. “I belong here, and here belongs to me.” Arscott’s watercolor and ink illustrations are as fresh and comfortable as the story. Realistic details create the homey setting: Dad sports a T-shirt and jeans, the narrator wears a puffy red vest over her pajamas. The dark blues of the night are punctuated by warm spots of light from windows and streetlamps in a diverse, compact city neighborhood with businesses, apartment buildings, houses, and an expansive park. The satisfying bedtime story will get young listeners ready for sleep with the calming final sentence, “I am home.” Pair with Denos and Goodale’s Windows and Cole and Gómez’s City Moon (both rev. 11/17).

From the January/February 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Maeve Visser Knoth

Maeve Visser Knoth is a librarian at Phillips Brooks School, Menlo Park, ­California. She has chaired the Notable Children’s Books Committee and taught at Notre Dame de Namur University and Lesley University.

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