Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I just want to say good night by Rachel Isadora

Lala and her village are ready to go to bed - but first she must say good night. To the fish her father caught, to the cat, to a brilliant bird, to the ants, to a stone, to her book, and finally to the moon, revealing a familiar cover on her book.

The book is illustrated with lush oil paintings, Lala's adventures framed by a sky that shifts from deep pink to vibrant orange, to rich, dark blue. The gentle repetition and glowing colors mark this as a sweet bedtime story.

But there are several things that bothered me about this book. It falls into the "general Africa" book, delineating the country only as "the African veld." Africa has a lot of different countries. That would be like having a picture book set in "a European forest" or something. Without knowing the specific country pictured, it's hard to know if the culture is portrayed respectfully or not. Is the clothing accurate? Would those animals actually be present? (Lala has a pet dog and there is a domesticated cat) I have no idea if those things are correct, because we don't know what country this is set in. Finally, Lala's book is American classic Goodnight Moon. In English. Why? I get the nostalgic note for parents and grandparents and the circle of the story, but it just seems incongruous. I'm always skeptical about universal situations - "children go to bed in the same way all over the world" implied storylines and this also bothers me.

Verdict: It's a lovely book and the writing is sweet and soothing, but the other aspects of the book bother me.

ISBN: 9780399173844; Published 2017 by Penguin; Review copy provided by the publisher

1 comment:

Sandy Brehl said...

Thank you for such a thoughtful and nuanced post. I agree, it looks and sounds lovely, and yet the concerns you articulate so well are troublesome and too easily overlooked.