Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Review - The Night Is Deep and Wide

The Night Is Deep and Wide

by Gillian Sze
illustrated by Sue Todd
Date: 2021
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 20
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Rich imagery, gentle rhythm and soothing repetition will lull your little one to sleep as the tulips close for the night, one by one. In this bedtime story written as an Italian villanelle, poet Gillian Sze makes use of the poetic forms of cyclic pattern and rhyme scheme to create a melodious lullaby.

A young child comes in from picking flowers as the creatures around their home all settle down for the evening. Songbirds curl against their mothers’ sides, the house slumps and sighs low, a hush settles as times slows. And little readers are invited to rest their heads and be soothed to sleep as moonlight falls on eyes that close.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Sure, newborns might only be able to see black and white (or so the book claims), but let's be honest: the pictures here are more for the adult reading the book to them. (How do you read a picture book to a newborn? Hold the thing over their head in the crib?)

I'm not sure I like the poetry in here, anyway. It's apparently an Italian villanelle. Okay... To me, it just sounds repetitive. The sentiment is nice, but I don't think a book like this is magically going to get a fussy (and possibly gassy) newborn to sleep. It's not like they'll hear the words and think, "Oh, my! An Italian villanelle. That's my cue to shut my eyes and ignore my tummy-ache."

The illustrations are certainly interesting, and as an adult, I can appreciate the technique. The spots of colour in the otherwise-monochromatic palette are striking.

There's really no reason not to recommend this. I'm just not sold on how it's being marketed. Newborns don't care about poetic forms and linoleum carving. They just want to hear your voice.

Thank you to NetGalley and Orca Book Publishers for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: 3/5
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3 out of 5

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