The Insomniacs

( 1 )

Overview

The wonder of nighttime comes to life in this breathtaking debut

When the Insomniacs move twelve time zones away for Mrs. Insomniac's new job, the family has an impossible time adapting to the change. They try everything to fall asleep at night—take hot baths, count to one thousand, sip mugs of milk—but nothing helps. Venturing out into the dark, they learn there is a whole world still awake and a beauty in their new and unconventional ...

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Overview

The wonder of nighttime comes to life in this breathtaking debut

When the Insomniacs move twelve time zones away for Mrs. Insomniac's new job, the family has an impossible time adapting to the change. They try everything to fall asleep at night—take hot baths, count to one thousand, sip mugs of milk—but nothing helps. Venturing out into the dark, they learn there is a whole world still awake and a beauty in their new and unconventional schedule.

Ideal for bedtime reading, this gorgeous and lyrical story celebrates nighttime's mystery and magic.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Future fans of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean will thrill to this after-dark debut from Wolf, with shadowy illustrations by Ben and Sean Hilts. After a move across “twelve time zones” to a new residence, the Insomniac family—Mother, Father, and daughter Mika—cannot sleep. Porcelain-skinned and spindly-limbed, the doll-like Insomniacs droop in blazing sunlight and only feel alert at night. When they hoist glowing lanterns to explore a moonlit winter forest, undaunted by forbidding silhouettes and reflecting animal eyes, they realize “the darkness was full of life.” The three embrace sleeplessness, waking at dusk for “a breakfast of nightshade vegetables” and being first “to the bakery, where the dough rose with the sun.” The Hilts’ grainy illustrations allow for the eerie (chiroptophobes, beware the cave images when the family happens upon “a horde of mice hanging upside down”), and the dim ambience challenges human eyesight, yet their inky pared-down palette is enticing. Where most picture books say goodnight, this unusual entry gives the go-ahead to stay up late. Ages 3–5. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Aug.)
various
From SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, Starred Review:

"Reminiscent of the work of Edward Gorey, Charles Addams, and a certain Tim Burton-esque aesthetic, the art for this book forges its own style without feeling derivative. Full-page mixed-media (charcoal, pencil, and computer) illustrations are cleverly designed. . . . An offbeat (but satisfying) bedtime story for fans of quirky tales and nighttime adventures."

From KIRKUS REVIEWS, Starred Review:

"A quietly magnificent paean to the wonder of nighttime and the solidity of a family unit. . . . What first seems an eerie, baby-goth vibe is held steady by the stable, close-knit family and lack of crisis in this atmospheric, calmly splendid piece."

From PUBLISHERS WEEKLY:

"Future fans of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean will thrill to this after-dark debut from Wolf, with shadowy illustrations by Ben and Sean Hilts. . . . Where most picture books say goodnight, this unusual entry gives the go-ahead to stay up late."

From BOOKLIST:

"The grainy, deeply shaded blue-and-black palette is beautifully illuminated by lanterns, the moon, creatures’ eyes, and other things that glow. . . . The characters, with their dark-rimmed eyes and spindly limbs, resemble nonscary Tim Burton creations and will speak to those who prefer their bedtime stories on the magical dark side."

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
When the Insomniac family must move twelve time zones away, they find they can stay awake only at night. By dawn they are ready to sleep, and cannot stay awake at work or school. They try everything to sleep at night, in vain. Seeking an answer to their problem, they discover many other creatures awake at night, and decide on a new routine. As night falls, young Mika plays with her nighttime pets. Father works on his photos in a dark room. Mother studies the stars through her telescope, while Mika goes to night school on line. Then they happily go to sleep at dawn. "We are a nighttime family," they all agree. Using pencils, charcoal, and computer, the illustrators create a somewhat mystical, stylized world for the family: egg-shaped father, skinny, doll-like mother, and longhaired Mika. Settings are dramatic; color is used to provoke emotion, chiefly on the dark side of course. The comic outlook is established on the jacket, where the family members perch on the letters of the title as they pursue their nighttime activities. Sufferers from jet lag can be sympathetic.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—The spindly legged, pale Insomniac family-Mother, Father and little Mika-lead a regular diurnal life until Mrs. Insomniac gets a new job "twelve time zones away." Once they arrive at their new home, the family members live up to their name and goth visages-despite their efforts, they cannot fall asleep at night but snooze at work and school. Unable to rectify this dire situation by themselves, they venture out to observe animal sleeping habits for ideas. When they see bats "dipp[ing], div[ing] and squeal[ing] with delight," the Insomniacs decide that they, too, can lead a happy and fulfilling nocturnal existence, exchanging "the sun [for]...stars and fireflies and northern lights." Father develops his photos in a darkroom. Mother studies the stars through her telescope, and Mika goes to night school remotely. Reminiscent of the work of Edward Gorey, Charles Addams, and a certain Tim Burton-esque aesthetic, the art for this book forges its own style without feeling derivative. Full-page mixed-media (charcoal, pencil, and computer) illustrations are cleverly designed and depict the sepia Insomniacs against the backgrounds of saturated yellow for daylight, red for interiors, and deep dark blue for nighttime scenes. An offbeat (but satisfying) bedtime story for fans of quirky tales and nighttime adventures.—Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
A quietly magnificent paean to the wonder of nighttime and the solidity of a family unit. Unlike picture books that use evening settings to address fears or coax kids into bed, this creative debut makes night-living a valid choice. The city-dwelling Insomniacs aren't originally "a night family. / But when Mrs. Insomniac found a new job, Mother, Father, and little Mika traveled twelve time zones to their new home," northern and remote. Hot baths and mugs of milk don't adjust their internal clocks. Perky all night and dozing all day, they seek counsel from their new neighbors: lynx, bears and bats. "And then the Insomniacs noticed: the darkness was full of life." Why force it? They decide to "give night a try." Mika keeps pets--a bandicoot and a fennec fox, among others--and attends night school online; Mother continues her (undefined) science career by studying night stars; Father develops photos in his darkroom. The family catches the bakery opening at dawn and then "bundle[s] into bed." Prussian blue dominates the offbeat pencil-and-charcoal illustrations, with whites and yellows glowing as moon, snow and lamplight. Figures are thin-armed and deliberate. Composition varies entrancingly, including full spreads, sequential boxes and dotted lines pointing to enlarged details. What first seems an eerie, baby-goth vibe is held steady by the stable, close-knit family and lack of crisis in this atmospheric, calmly splendid piece. (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399256653
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/16/2012
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 935,307
  • Age range: 3 - 5 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.36 (w) x 10.70 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Karina Wolf is a lifelong insomniac and a debut picture book author. Karina studied literature and film in New York, Paris and Dublin, and she works in television and film production. She lives in Manhattan with her dogs, Luca and Barry Manilow.

The Brothers Hilts are Ben (the older one) and Sean (the younger one). They work as a team illustrating, designing and constantly comparing to see whose ideas are better. They too are the products of an insomniac family and a long line of people who stay up late into the night. They now live and work in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 15, 2013

    Clever Tale

    Love this little story of an oddball family of nightowls after moving to a different timezone. Silly and charming.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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