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Children's LiteratureParents of energetic non-sleepers will sympathize with Cutie La Rue's mother and father, though few will have tried the remedy they discover. Enter Night Owl, a white satin bird with a top hat and a touch of magic. At the press of a button, the nattily dressed owl takes Cutie and her toys on a nighttime tour of a jazzy dreamland "uptown," replete with jazz piano, snare drums, soft-shoe routines, and songs belted out by Night Owl until Cutie just has to join the jam. Sure enough, after a night of fun at the Dreamland Nightclub, the exhausted little girl falls fast asleep till morning. Success at last, thanks to Night Owl! Husband and wife team of author (Andrea Davis Pinkney) and illustrator (Brian Pinkney), having brought kids award-winning books about Duke Ellington, Alvin Ailey, and Ella Fitzgerald, now incorporate their love for jazz and dance into fiction for the youngest readers with a burst of movement and color (brilliant purples, magentas, yellows, and oranges) and a radical change from scratchboard, the illustrator's more controlled signature technique. Combining action, music, and a snowy owl faintly reminiscent of Harry Potter's, this swinging bedtime story brings some very cool magic and fantasy to the younger set and may even wear out a toddler who wants to dance till dawn. 2004, Gulliver/Harcourt, Ages 3 to 7.
—Barbara L. Talcroft