On a Starry Night

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like Jane Yolen's Owl Night , this gentle, poetic picture book intently focuses on the sounds and visual beauty of nature as experienced by a child on nighttime walks with her parents. The narrator climbs a hill ``where nighthawks swoop / and the dark woods rattle with crickets and frogs.'' The child is frightened, until her mother lovingly points out the constellations and tells her how, when she was a child, her father and she ``saw the northern lights, like brightly colored scarves, dance across the sky'' and she ``forgot to be afraid.'' By the time the girl's own father joins them, her fears, too, are allayed, and when he swings her into the air, she imagines herself riding both Cygnet and Pegasus. Kinsey-Warnock's ( The Canada Geese Quilt ) text, with its gem-like images and sensitive story, shines like the bright stars in McPhail's ( The Bear's Toothache ) dark, almost phosphorescent charcoal drawings. Bold swaths of purple, blue-green and red add mystery to his unusual landscapes. Both text and art imaginatively portray the fireflies that ``blink and flicker like sparks / up into the sky'' and the planets ``spin by . . . like ribbon from a spool.'' Ages 4-7. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
PreS-K-Nightime, farm country, and a touch of fantasy are all elements of this poetic story meant to assuage a child's fears of the dark. ``On a starry night, Mama and I climb the hill...'' begins a young girl's description of the world that surrounds her family's rural home. Deer, owls, and coyotes are part of the Earth, while the Great Bear, Pegasus, and Cygnus the Swan are in the sky. When Papa comes up the hill to swing his daughter high in the air, she imagines that a swan and winged horse have come to fly with her to the Milky Way. Then, sleepy and safe in his arms, the child is carried home. McPhail's paintings, in deep rich tones against velvety black backgrounds, successfully reflect the scenes and softly contrast starlit figures with deep shadows. A gentle story that celebrates night's beauty and a family's enveloping warmth.-Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Carolyn Phelan
Although she's a bit frightened of the darkness and the noises outdoors at night, the young narrator of this picture book clutches her mother's hand and climbs the hill behind their home to sit and watch the starlit sky. Soon her father comes and playfully tosses her up in the air. Suddenly, she feels that she's flying into the sky. Heading for the Great Bear's jaws, she's swept up onto the Swan's back, then rides Pegasus past stars and planets, only to fall back into her father's arms. The family watches the stars until she's sleepy. Then they head for home, while she vows, "Next time, I'll bring an apple for Pegasus and a ribbon for his mane and I won't be afraid at all." Like the double-page spread of Mama, Papa, child, and dog on the hillside watching five simultaneous shooting stars, this all seems a little too good to be true. In common with other picture books in which children go out with their parents to watch the stars, the mood is idyllic and a bit static. Still, the writing sets a definite, consistent tone, and many of the illustrations are well imagined, boldly composed, and beautifully executed in an appealing, impressionistic style.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780531068205
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/1994
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.31 (w) x 10.53 (h) x 0.36 (d)

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