In the Night Garden


Late one evening, three little girls prowl, growl, and let their imaginations soar.

One is a bear with sharp, white teeth;

One is a whale, steady and strong;

One is a sled dog, sleek and lean.

Barbara Joosse?s exciting nighttime tale is perfectly enhanced by Elizabeth Sayles?s full-color illustrations.

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Late one evening, three little girls prowl, growl, and let their imaginations soar.

One is a bear with sharp, white teeth;

One is a whale, steady and strong;

One is a sled dog, sleek and lean.

Barbara Joosse’s exciting nighttime tale is perfectly enhanced by Elizabeth Sayles’s full-color illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Three girls perform their best animal imitations by the light of the moon in this fittingly dreamlike bedtime book. Trees, plants and picket fence in the yard provide the shadowy, silver-lit backdrop for one girl, who forages and roars like a bear; a second, who floats and sings like a whale; and a third, who howls as if she's a sleek sled dog in the snow. Their imaginative romp is temporarily interrupted by an unseen adult's call of "Bedtime!" but the girls simply move the game inside, staying in character as they tuck themselves in and soon nod off. Joosse's (Mama, Do You Love Me?) poetic text captures striking animal characteristics with vivid adjectives and fun-to-sound-out words like "How-how-howl" or "Eeee-eeee-eeee." Sayles's (I Already Know I Love You) blend of acrylics and pastels, dominated by shimmery blues, greens and whites, have a gauzy look, suggesting a quasi-magical time where waking slips into peaceful sleep. Her girls and wild creatures joyously sweep and swirl across the pages, offering readers a jumping-off point for their own dreams. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal


Joosse provides a fresh take on the traditional bedtime story in this tribute to the power of make-believe and the comfort of dreams. Three little girls pretend to be three majestic beasts as they cavort in a moonlit backyard. At bedtime, the magic of the night garden follows them into the house. As a whale, one child is "whooshing and splashing" in the bath, another is a bear slipping on her soft bearskin pajamas, and the third is a dog pulling a sled across snowy sheets. As they drift off to sleep, they assume their imaginary forms and pretend play blends seamlessly into dream vision. The prose is graceful but restrained, giving the story a hushed mystery. The acrylic and pastel illustrations, in a muted palette of greens and blues sprinkled with cozy gold accents, reinforce this tone. On some spreads, the imaginary world takes over, a familiar bedroom dissolving into a starry night sky, or a bathtub overflowing the page to become the churning sea. Other pages anchor the story to the real world, such as the arresting picture of the girls howling their open-mouthed resistance to bedtime. In the Night Garden would provide a wonderful female counterpoint to Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are in a storytime on imagination.-Rachael Vilmar, Eastern Shore Regional Library, Salisbury, MD

Kirkus Reviews
Three girls use the power of their imaginations to transform themselves. Just before bedtime, a trio of friends frolics in the garden, each pretending to be her favorite animal. Joosse's adroit wordcraft uses visceral imagery, conveyed in sparse yet evocative language, to conjure up the creature each child has envisioned, whether it be a foraging bear with snapping teeth, a singing whale or a lonesome, howling sled dog. The ingenious play extends through the nightly rituals, as "bear," "whale" and "sled dog" prepare for slumber. The magical tale unfolds with little verbal fanfare, the author's tidy prose conveying maximum effect and encouraging readers to unfurl their own imaginations. Sayles's acrylic-and-pastel illustrations seamlessly complement the story. With ethereal images rendered in a soothing blend of evening hues, her artful merging of each child's actual and imagined self is simply stunning. This lovely tale is bound to be a favorite request at bedtime. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805066715
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 9/2/2008
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

BARBARA JOOSSE is the bestselling author of thirty-two books for children, including Mama, Do You Love Me? and Wind-Wild Dog. Ms. Joosse lives in Cedarburg,Wisconsin, with her husband.

ELIZABETH SAYLES is the author and illustrator of The Goldfish Yawned and the illustrator of I Already Know I Love You, by Billy Crystal. She lives with her family in Valley Cottage, New York.

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