Review of Dark on Light

Dark on LightDark on Light
by Dianne White; illus. by Felicita Sala
Preschool, Primary    Beach Lane/Simon    40 pp.
12/22    9781534487895    $18.99
e-book ed.  9781534487901    $10.99

“Gentle the evening. Sweeping the skies. / Dark the shadows as twilight arrives. / Rose the horizon, gleaming and bright. / Twilight and evening and dark on light.” The author-illustrator team behind Green on Green (rev. 5/20) returns with another paean to benevolent nature. As the sun sets on a house surrounded by idyllic countryside, three children head outside into the deepening night—passing deer, smelling lavender, catching sight of an owl in flight—all the while (as observant viewers will have noted) searching for their errant dog. Happily reunited, all return home to be greeted by two loving adults who wrap them in warmth, read them stories, and tuck them in for the night. The text consists of a series of lyrical quatrains, almost mesmerizing in their effect, the last line of each always incorporating two words from the previous lines plus “and dark on light.” Sala has outdone herself here, with her glorious watercolor, gouache, and colored-pencil art lending both structure (the quest story) and atmosphere. Double-page spreads begin with apricots and roses and then deepen into dark blues and purples, with the white of the moonlight, the children’s flashlight, and the silvered trees and the warm tones of the children’s clothing providing contrast. An exemplary, revelatory bedtime book.

From the January/February 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is a contributing editor to The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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