Friday, July 19, 2019

Review - The Night Is Yours

The Night Is Yours
by Abdul-Razak Zachariah
illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo
Date: 2019
Publisher: Dial Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 34
Format: e-book
Source: library

From the New York Times bestselling illustrator of I Am Enough, this glowing, empowering picture book about a nighttime hide-and-seek game celebrates blackness and self-confidence.

Little one, so calm and so happy, the darkness of the night is yours like the darkness of your skin.

This lyrical text, narrated to a young girl named Amani by her father, follows her as she plays an evening game of hide-and-seek with friends at her apartment complex. The moon's glow helps Amani find the last hidden child, and seems almost like a partner to her in her game, as well as a spotlight pointing out her beauty and strength.

This is a gorgeous bedtime read-aloud about joy and family love and community, and most of all about feeling great in your own skin.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

The night is an extension of your skin,
all of you children,
blending in when you want it to
and popping out when you want it to,

because the darkness of the night is yours
like the darkness of your skin.

As you might be able to tell from those lines, this is actually a picture book better suited to adults. I just can't see that children are going to enjoy this or even relate much to it. The text is too poetic (and not in a good way), and the whole thing reads like an adult's romanticized version of childhood. What little kid, when all of her friends have gone inside for the evening, wants to sit out all by herself and dreamily contemplate the night's silence? The child comes across as idealized and not very realistic.

The illustrations are a mixed bag for me. Some of them are quite cute, but others are plagued by perspective issues. I'm also not sure if the combination of attempted realism for the human figures and buildings versus the extreme abstraction for the plants really works; it almost looks like two illustrators are working with different styles at the same time.

I understand what the author was trying to do here, but it doesn't work for a children's book. Picture books are usually for children... but this book seems like it was written entirely for their parents.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.67 out of 5

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