Naamah and the Ark at Night

Naamah and the Ark at Night

4.5 2
by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Holly Meade
As Noah’s wife sings the animals to sleep, an age-old tale is told afresh in a soothing poetic form brought to life with beautiful collage illustrations.

Naamah is the wife of Noah, and her name means "great singer." For forty days and forty nights, as the ark tosses on storm-wracked seas, Naamah sings. She sings to the animals, two by two.


As Noah’s wife sings the animals to sleep, an age-old tale is told afresh in a soothing poetic form brought to life with beautiful collage illustrations.

Naamah is the wife of Noah, and her name means "great singer." For forty days and forty nights, as the ark tosses on storm-wracked seas, Naamah sings. She sings to the animals, two by two. She sings to her husband, her sons, and their wives. She sings, and they all sleep, finally at peace. Acclaimed author Susan Campbell Bartoletti’s rhythmic, lyrical text pairs with Caldecott Honor winner Holly Meade’s luminous collage for a cozy, tender lullaby, and an ode to the power of song.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this atmospheric picture book, Bartoletti (The Flag Maker) gives voice to a biblical figure about whom little information exists: Noah's wife, who may have been named Naamah, Bartoletti explains in an author's note. She imagines the soothing effect of song during a long, dark night on the ark, as Naamah sings to her fellow passengers, both human and animal. Inspired by the Arabic poetic form of the ghazal (which Bartoletti also discusses at book's end), she structures a calming lullaby for the ark's inhabitants and readers alike: "Over the ark, song flows at night./ Two by two, eyes close at night./ Two by two, wings furl at night./ Two by two, tails curl at night." Meade's (If I Never Forever Endeavor) watercolor collages fill the large-format pages with all manner of animals in various states of repose. On several spreads, the refrain "Naamah sings all through the night" is paired with gray-black figures silhouetted against a starry night sky. It's a story of quiet confidence and comfort, during trials of truly biblical proportions, as well as a gentle bedtime book. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
Lovely and lyrical...Bartoletti and Meade take a most familiar story and make it breathtakingly new.
—Booklist (starred review)

Sunlit figures with a peaceful absence of detail contrast with quietly dramatic, near-black silhouettes. Affection between pairs warms many a scene.
—The Horn Book (starred review)

The text has a lovely, soothing effect, with the repeated ending words and a lilting cadence that effectively suggests a comforting lullaby. Meade's watercolor collage illustrations match the dramatic pacing of the text with varied perspectives and humorous views of the sleeping (or prowling) animals. . . . This captivating interpretation creates a remarkable partner for Noah, who uses her special talent in a memorable way.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—In most books about Noah, his wife plays a supporting role, if any, but Bartoletti makes her the central character of this picture book. While winds and waves buffet the ark at night, Naamah calms restless animals with her lullaby. Her husband, their sons, and their daughters-in-law sleep, but Naamah "sings all through the night." Slowly, two by two, the animals settle into slumber as the soothing poetry lulls them to rest. Meade's watercolor collage illustrations include both full-color and black-and-white spreads, subtly conveying the night outside and cozy quarters within the ark. In an author's note, Bartoletti explains the Arabic poetic form, the ghazal, that inspired the structure of her poetry. Young listeners who hear her bedtime verse will be aware only of its soothing rhythm carrying them to the final "Hush hush hush, good night."—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
In this retelling of the story of Noah's Ark, it is the singing of Noah's wife Naamah, a lullaby at night that soothes and comforts all on board. The brief lines of inner-rhyming text all end with "...night." They are rich in description of the rain and crashing thunder that upset the restless animals. Naamah strokes the animals as she sings for moon, stars, earth, and sky. Soon the creatures on board, "Are lullabied to sleep at night," as Naamah sings, "Hush hush hush, good night," in a typeface that goes from large to small, ending this lovely, peaceful good night story. The brief text runs as captions below the large double-page illustrations that employ watercolor collage figures to define the characters naturalistically with design sensitivity. They blend with Naamah's singing to evoke the peace possible in the sea that surrounds them. In a note, the author describes the background of her retelling, and of the poetic form she has used. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.30(w) x 11.60(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Susan Campbell Bartoletti has written many celebrated books for children, including the Newbery Honor—winning HITLER YOUTH: GROWING UP IN HITLER'S SHADOW. She wrote NAAMAH AND THE ARK AT NIGHT in a strict but exquisite poetic form: the ancient middle-eastern ghazal. Susan Campbell Bartoletti lives in Pennsylvania.

Holly Meade (1956-2013) wrote and illustrated IF I NEVER FOREVER ENDEAVOR. She earned a Caldecott Honor for her illustrations in HUSH! A THAI LULLABY by Minfong Ho. She also illustrated AND THEN COMES HALLOWEEN by Tom Brenner; ON THE FARM, IN THE WILD, and IN THE SEA by David Elliott; and many others.

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Naamah and the Ark at Night 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
LetsBookIt More than 1 year ago
The author's not at the end of this book explains the style of writing used to write this lullaby. The style is inspired by an Arabic form of poetry dating back to at least the seventh century, called ghazal (pronounced like guzzle) It makes for a lovely, rhythmic feel as we read about Noah's wife singing the ark to sleep at night. The illustrations feel like cutouts pasted together to make pictures and are soothing rather than bold in colour. Naamah and the Ark at Night is a perfect bedtime book.
beauSK More than 1 year ago
Naamah is Noah's wife. She puts everyone--people and animals-- to bed at night. Little children enjoy the rhyme of this story as well as the pictures. My three grandchildren, ages 8, 6, and 3 had me read it several times during my week's visit. It's a good bedtime book, but children will like it any time. Don't be surprised if the children begin asking questions about the ark and the animals.