Review of The Midnight Fair

The Midnight Fair
by Gideon Sterer; illus. by Mariachiara Di Giorgio
Primary    Candlewick    32 pp.    g
2/21    978-1-5362-1115-3    $16.99

Forest creatures emerge from the shadows to have their own nighttime fun at the county fairgrounds in this wordless and wondrous picture book. Once the humans head home for the evening, foxes, raccoons, bears, deer, and other woodland creatures break through a fence, switch on the electricity, and enjoy the fair in all its summer glory. The animals have the place cleaned up before the groundskeeper returns for another day of work, but it is a close call. A paneled layout builds suspense by showcasing simultaneous locations and events, such as the human worker arriving at dawn at the same moment the creatures are tossing trash into bins and scurrying away. Cinematic visuals include moments of humor as ­creatures are shown stuffing their faces with snacks, playing games, and covering their eyes on rides. The glowing watercolor, gouache, and ­colored-pencil illustrations are ­atmospheric and brilliantly rendered through lush washes of color and intriguing contrasts of dark and light, illuminating the ­setting and depicting an engaging tension between the wildness of the animals and the humanness of their behaviors and activities as fair-goers. In the morning, pieces of the currency the animals used (pebbles, leaves, etc.) are left on the ticket booth for the groundskeeper to discover; in the wild, a goldfish won at a carnival game is freed from its bag and set loose in a pond. This intriguing ending affords viewers the opportunity to reflect on the dreamlike narrative and ponder what happens next.

From the March/April 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elisa Gall

Elisa Gall is a teacher-librarian at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. 

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Kevin Oberhausen

This one is really beautiful. The "lighting" at night is spectacular.

Posted : Apr 29, 2021 07:56


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