Mac is back! I love Mac Barnett's books (especially Extra Yarn & Leo), his TED talks, and his Kidlit presentations. I was excited to read this new one. Like Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, it broke rules and did so humorously. This is a great mentor text for a building plot, foreshadowing, and page turns. Already garnering starred reviews, this is a fun book for writers and beginning readers.
Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Brian Biggs
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (2017)
Ages: 4 to 8
Bedtime, humor, diversity, and phonetic repetition
Synopsis (From Barnes & Noble):
It's a noisy night in this city building! The residents of each floor can hear their neighbors above them, and are wondering what's going on above their heads. Climb floor by floor and page by page to find out whose singing, dancing, cheering, and cooing are keeping a grumpy old man awake.
With innovative split-level spreads that offer the feeling of climbing an apartment building floor by floor, this clever and colorful collaboration between New York Times–bestselling author Mac Barnett and gifted illustrator Brian Biggs offers an irresistible investigation of one noisy night.
What is going La La La above my head?
A man is singing opera above my head.
What is going ma ma ma above my head?
A baby is cooing above my head.
Why I liked this book?
With a diverse cast, that includes a few animals, this book plays with both the customary and unusual noises heard in a city apartment building. The formula call and answer (seen above in the excerpt) is employed throughout the text, until it is broken in the final few pages. The end papers beautifully sandwich the story, by portraying the first and eleventh floor, when the lights finally "go out."
Mac Barnett strategically employs repeatable phrases to encourage the youngest readers to play along. These phrases all have the short "a" sound, such as "Blah, Blah, Blah" (Baa, La, Haw, etc). Brian Biggs then uses teasing glimpses of feet or props to help the readers anticipate or guess what's happening next above the character's heads.
Employing vertical images, split at the very top and bottom of the standard book page, Biggs foreshadows the next page and carries through the last page. He employs vibrant colors and cartoon-like characters to catch the eye and play along with Barnett's masterful text. Mac and Brian have created a deceptively simple picture book that is sure to enjoy repeated readings.
- create your own a night time house with noises using a different vowel sound on different floors.
- describe or draw your bedtime routine.
This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.