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Pettigrew, Eileen
Illustrated by William Kimber Toronto, Annick Press, 1992. 24pp, library binding, ISBN 1-55037-235-1 (library binding) $14.95, ISBN 1-55037-242-4 (paper) $4.95. Distributed by Firefly Books. CIP

Grades 1 to 3/Ages 6 to 8

Reviewed by Catherine Mclnerney

Volume 20 Number 5
1992 October

This picture-book by Eileen Pettigrew left a sort of blah impression on this reviewer. Its main failing is that the author is trying to write about too many different themes in one book.

The book starts out with a boy in bed who wants his door left open. Just when you think the book will be about a child's fear of the dark, the author changes direction and begins to tell the story of the boy's night journey with his father. While this is certainly an interesting boy's trip with his dad, the text is hardly as memorable in its detailing of the experience of being out at night as the classic Owl Moon by Jane Yolen (Putnam, 1987).

The father then goes on to tell his son about his own childhood. Coincidentally, the house they live in is the same house the boy's father lived in as a child, only now the farm is gone and the house has been surrounded by suburbs. Again, the theme of changes to a neighbourhood over a period of time has already been done in powerful graphic images in Jeannie Baker's Window (Greenwillow, 1991). The father summarizes his experiences without giving any details or revealing his feelings. The birth of a calf can thus be presented in only one paragraph.

The ending is similarly low key and deflated. The boy and his dad end the evening by sitting on the porch listening to the tree frogs. There is a reference back to the "afraid of the dark" story-line as the boy asks again to have his door left open when he goes to bed.

The illustrations, in colour and black and white, are okay but exhibit no distinctive style or personality. In all, this is a nice story about a boy and his dad, but it certainly is not a necessary purchase for the collection. Hundreds of other books could serve its function just as well or better.

Catherine Mclnerney has been a school librarian and a library consultant and now works as a children's librarian with the St. Catharines Public Library in St. Catharines, Ontario

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