Review of Night Walk to the Sea

Night Walk to the Sea: A Story About Rachel Carson, Earth's Protector
by Deborah Wiles; illus. by Daniel Miyares
Primary   Schwartz & Wade/Random    40 pp.    g
9/20    978-1-5247-0147-5    $17.99
Library ed.  978-1-5247-0148-2    $20.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5247-0149-9    $10.99

A boy shouts, stomps, and plays monsters to hide his fear of a storm and the power outage it brings, while his mother offers comfort. After the storm fades the pair walks through the dark woods to the ocean, noticing natural wonders they encounter on their way — an owl calling, raindrops on ferns, bioluminescence on the waves. A reader who skips the subtitle may not ever notice that the patient mother who encourages her child’s imaginative play and curiosity here is scientist and author Rachel Carson (1907–1964). But while readers may not come away with a greater biographical knowledge of Carson per se, Wiles’s story itself embodies a Carson quote that opens the back matter: “It is not half so important to know as to feel.” Carson in the book shows tender attention and care both to her son’s feelings and to the natural world, that care exemplified when together they scoop a sinking firefly up out of the waves. Miyares’s illustrations match the gentle tone of the story, with muted ink washes in blues and grays surrounding pops of yellow light from the lanterns and flashlights that illuminate every spread. Back matter describes the two separate incidents from Carson’s life that Wiles combined to create this story, as well as a brief description of Carson’s importance and the science behind bioluminescence.

From the September/October 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Laura Koenig

Laura Koenig is the Team Leader for Central Library Children's Services at the Boston Public Library.

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