The Picture Book Buzz

Night Wishes - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Monday I had the privilege of interviewing seven of the poets featured in Lee Bennet Hopkin's most recent picture book anthology - Night Wishes. Today, I get to introduce you to this stunningly written and illustrated sweet bedtime book, full of wonder.

Night Wishes

Editor: Lee Bennet Hopkins

Illustrator: Jen Corace

Publisher: Eerdmans Publishing Co. (2020)

Ages: 4-8

Fiction

Themes:

Poetry, bedtime, wishes, and dreams.

Synopsis:

How would a clock, nightlight, or teddy bear say good night? In this enchanting poetry collection, Lee Bennett Hopkins and thirteen other poets imagine the wishes whispering through a young girl’s bedroom as she falls asleep. The bookshelf’s stories curl through her head; the pillow transforms into a hot air balloon; the rocking horse waits expectantly for tomorrow’s adventures. Stunning gouache illustrations by Jen Corace offer new details to discover with every reading.

Perfect for bedtime reading and re-reading, Night Wishes will transport young readers into a wonderful, whimsical world of dreams.

Opening Lines:

Climb in, child.

Climb in.

Cuddle into thoughts

of things you did today. . .

What I LOVED about this book:

Creating a sweet, bedtime, Lee Bennett Hopkins assigned, edited, and organized 14 persona or "mask" poems into a gorgeous poetry anthology. Each poem is written from the point of view of an object in the child's room at night. Sandwiched between poems from the bed, Bed (as night begins) and Bed Again (as morning arrives), are wonderful poems from items within the child's room, as well as an angel, stars, and the moon.

Jen Corace's illustrations create the connection that guides the reader through the book. Beginning with the soft teal colors and magical transformation of dandelion seeds into stars dancing across the opening end pages, title, and contents pages Jen set a sleepy, bewitching mood.

Bed by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, and the accompanying initial double page spread, set the tone for the book. After an exciting day of play, it's time to:

"... pull your blankets close

up tight

as I warm your sleep

throughout the night."

Editor © Lee Bennet Hopkins, 2020. Image © Jen Corace, 2020.

Kids will enjoy examining this cozy, warm toned image (especially on subsequent reads), to locate the objects that will be featured, or appear, in subsequent poems.

For instance, in the next poem, Matt Forrest Esenwine's Pillow, where the child's dream adventure begins with the pillow carrying the child away from the house into the night sky, whispering . . .

" . . . Your mind is where adventure's born,

so come, my child . . .

. . . let's go!"

Editor © Lee Bennet Hopkins, 2020. Image © Jen Corace, 2020.

the reader finds, in addition to the child's pets, the streamer of flags from above the bed and a full-sized night-light (the lighthouse). Did you notice the toy hot-air balloon tucked into the bookcase?

Next, to accompany Blanket by Jude Mandell, a beautiful poem expressing the mutual love between a child and its cherished "blankie," Jen placed the child, wrapped in the blanket, and her pets (now with the Scottie dog is in a sweater and smoking a pipe!) in a double-mast sailboat, with the flag streamers tied to the top. She also included the girl's stuffed bear and three bunnies, in two other boats, all rowing toward the lighthouse.

Although the next illustration breaks from the flow of the images and focuses on fairytale characters creatively animated amid a stack of books, the poem, Book by Joyce Sidman, has an amazing line highlighting the power of books - "I'll quietly wait, like a bright stack of wings."

The illustrations for the poems Cat by Eileen Spinelli and Dog by Irene Latham, shift back to a more dreamy, magical feeling full of stars, as the pets wonder if the child is dreaming about them, as they dream about her and adventures.

As the Clock, by Prince Redcloud, chimes in and the Rocking Horse, by Alice Schertle, wishes to hurry time (it prefers playtime), be sure to look for the fun costume changes of the dog and cat.

Then, as the turning point, Lee Bennett Hopkin's poem Teddy Bear, brings us a comforting HUGE stuffed bear who tells the child snuggled asleep on its head, "squeeze me tight until tomorrow's morning light." The bear, taller than the trees, strides out of the woods and through the poems, Angel by Niki Grimes and Stars by Deborah Ruddell back toward the house. Where we find the child snuggled in bed and serenaded by the Moon (by Daren Sardelli).

With everyone once again settled back in the room asleep, the lighthouse reverts once again to a Night-light, by Renee M. LaTulippe, and whispers . . .

"But one thing I love most of all -

you there, curled up tight.

As dreamtime settles over you,

I glow my sweet goodnight."

Editor © Lee Bennet Hopkins, 2020. Image © Jen Corace, 2020.

I love the way the lighthouse ("night-light") was placed into almost every image. Serving as a beacon, guiding the child through her dreams back to her room. While this is a beautiful, gentle book perfect for bedtime snuggles, it is also a wonderful introduction to some of the various forms of poetry, both rhyming and free verse. As well as a great mentor text on carrying a story through the illustrations. A masterfully edited, poetically beautiful book to treasure; this is definitely one not to be missed.

Resources:

- try writing a poem in the voice of a favorite toy, animal, or item in your room or house.

- make your own starry night light (https://www.girlsbuildclub.com/star-jar-solar-lights/).

- draw a picture, or write a story or a poem, about a dream you've had.

- why do you think the title is "Night Wishes"? Who's making the wishes?

If you missed my interview of some of the poets on Monday, read it here.

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.

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