Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Bright Winter Night by Alli Brydon, illustrated by Ashling Lindsay

I'd like to see more winter titles that don't include Christmas imagery (however much disguised) and I hoped this book would fill that niche, but I have mixed feelings about how well it does that.

With a strong palette of blues, purples, and silvers, Brydon's rhyming couplets introduce a range of animals, picked out in bright red and stark black, who are preparing a mysterious project. It turns out to be a sled, and they all join together on a journey to see something wonderful - the northern lights.

The simple text has a strong beat, "Last, the pack of wolves appears, a signal that the course is clear./And now - just one small thing remains: Mouse knots a sturdy set of reins." and the night-time colors of purple and blue are attractive. The idea, all the animals working together to go see the lights as a special winter night treat, is a nice winter celebration without any specific holiday overtones.

Most of my objections are my own personal idiosyncrasies; The art is reminiscent of Klassen's roughly formed creatures and blank eyes, which I really dislike. All the animals given genders, about half, are labeled as "he" and are performing some feat of strength - bear, stag - excepting little wren who has a feminine gender and cheers on the group. The rhyming books I like are very rare and this one just didn't click for me. I also prefer more nonfiction and find it exasperating when predators and prey are all working together, although the book does specifically note that this is unusual.

However, my own feelings aside, this is a nice storytime book for toddlers and preschoolers, although I think the illustrations are a little vaguely defined for that age group. It would make a nice bedtime read and kids could make their own sleds or northern lights pictures.

Verdict: This just didn't "click" for me, but it has a very attractive cover and would make a nice addition to non-holiday winter storytimes.

ISBN: 9781542022248; Published December 2022 by Two Lions; Review copy provided by publisher

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