Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Dark on Light by Dianne White, illustrated by Felicita Sala

I am generally not a fan of rhyming picture books, especially those that fall into the poetry, rather than humor, genre, but I do find Dianne White's poetry to be a cut above the rest. A steady, peaceful beat rings through the story, starting with a view of a red house, in a rural, tree-covered landscape, framed by the blazing orange of sunset. "Gentle the evening. Sweeping the skies./Dark the shadows as twilight arrives."

Close observers will see a small, shadowed black dog pacing out into the dusk, eventually followed by three white children with blonde or red hair. They explore the night world, searching for the dog, illuminated by an orange harvest moon and a flashlight, walking through the fields and forest, glimpsing animals watching them from the shadows, "Orange the moon, burnished and bright./Meadow and owl and dark on light." After their exploration discovers the dog, they return home to a peaceful bedtime ritual in the attic and the blue and white shimmer of stars and moon as the world sleeps.

This peaceful bedtime story joins White's previous titles, Blue on Blue and Green on Green, the latter also illustrated by Felicita Sala. Sala's earth tones are wonderfully suited to this night story, with the brown shadows and gleaming orange moon shifting to the pale blue and whites of the night lights and sleep. The three titles together make a poetic exploration of the natural world, at different times of the day, but my favorites remain the first, Blue on Blue for Krommes' stunning illustrations and the joyful exploration of a storm and this latest title, which is a perfect bedtime story, sure to lull small children and their grownups alike into a peaceful frame of mind before bed.

Verdict: Recommended for most collections, especially if you are looking for additional bedtime stories, or books celebrating nature.

ISBN: 9781534487895; Published December 2022 by Beach Lane Books; Review copy provided by publisher

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